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Wheaton College Gets 30,000-Piece Gem Collection

On Saturday, Oct. 5, the geology and environmental studies department hosted a dedication ceremony for the Arthur E. Smith mineral collection. Credit: Wheaton College press release
On Saturday, Oct. 5, the geology and environmental studies department hosted a dedication ceremony for the Arthur E. Smith mineral collection. Credit: Wheaton College press release
Arthur Smith, a Wheaton College alumnus, has donated his 30,000-piece gem collection, which he grew over five decades, to his alma mater after he died in 2009 and many of these pieces are now on display museum in the Meyer Science Center, according to the Chicago Tribune. 

The collection contains a variety of mineral specimens in different shapes, sizes and colors, according to a The Record, Wheaton College's student newspaper. Smith specialized in minerals from Texas, Arkansas, New Hampshire, Colorado and the Black Hills of South Dakota, but the collection contains thousands of minerals from all over the world. 

“There are many eye popping specimens in this collection, but many are prized because they are rare or represent famous mines or localities,” said professor of geology and department chair Stephen Moshier in the the story by The Record. 

Geology professor Jeffrey Greenberg and his wife flew to Texas in January to work with professional packers in order to get the collection — nearly 10 wood pallets full of minerals — moved by truck to Wheaton, according to the news release. 

The collection arrived in mid-January, and it took three days to finish moving the material from the loading dock of Meyer Science Center to the geology and environmental science department.

Following the move, Greenberg, lab associate Jamie Selander and many students have spent hundreds of hours cataloging the collection, which included creating a computer database with photographs, moving specimens to different cabinetry and putting many minerals on display in the building exhibit space.

It is expected to take many more years to fully catalogue Smith's collection but on display now are many gems and a 260-piece frog collection, according to the Tribune. 

While Wheaton already had a decent collection of minerals, this donation has pushed the college to a level that is comparable to many museums, Moshier said in the news release. 

“I like to compare this to a collection like our archives or the Wade Center,” Moshier said. “We believe that amateur and professional mineralogists will want to visit the collection to photograph and study many of the rarest specimens.”

Read more on the Chicago Tribune or in The Record, Wheaton College's student newspaper.

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