100 Years – 100 Objects: Mesolite with Fluorapophyllite

January 26, 2009

The Houston Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1909 – meaning that the curators of the Houston Museum of Natural Science have been collecting and preserving natural and cultural treasures for a hundred years now. For this yearlong series, our current curators have chosen one hundred exceptional objects from the Museum’s immense storehouse of specimens and artifacts—one for each year of our history. Check back here frequently to learn more about this diverse selection of behind-the-scenes curiosities—we will post the image and description of a new object every few days.

This description is from Joel, the Museum’s President and curator of Gems and minerals. He’s chosen spectacular objects from the Museum’s mineralogy collection, which includes some of the most rare and fascinating mineral specimens in the world, that we’ll be sharing here – and on hmns.org – throughout the year.

Pashan Hills Near Khadakvasla, Poona, Maharashtra, India.

Mesolite in large crystals and large, spherical sprays like the one pictured here come from only one place in the world: the Pashan Hills quarries.

The 23-cm example shown here, on fluorapophyllite matrix, is probably the world’s finest example of the species.

This specimen is extremely fragile and was brought out of India by mineral dealer Rock Currier, who packed the specimen in powdered soap and bought for it a first-class airplane ticket from Bombay to Los Angeles in order to ensure its safe arrival.

Marvel at the world’s most spectacular collection of natural mineral crystals in the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Authored By Joel Bartsch

Not only is Joel the President of the Museum, he’s also a curator. He has the rare distinction of having held almost every job here – including security guard, back before his museum career took him to distinguished posts all across the country. At HMNS, he built our outstanding collection of gems and minerals and the world-renowned Wiess Energy Hall before being appointed President in July 2004. Since, he’s brought us Lucy, Leonardo and…check back here for his updates on the next big things coming up.

3 responses to “100 Years – 100 Objects: Mesolite with Fluorapophyllite”

  1. Amanda says:

    Awesome specimen!
    I find this museum so interesting that I visit three times a week!

  2. Inda says:

    Someone asked me if “Rock Currier” is a real person and if this is his real name. It is! Check out this page from the Mineralogical Record’s web page:


  3. Olivia Lu says:

    I recently visited HMNS and was blown away by the Cullen Hall of Gems! Out of all the gems, this specimen captured my eye and mind. Letting my imagination run wild, I was like a child staring at the sky trying to guess cloud shapes (is it a porcupine? turtle? sea anemone?). Once you visually digest this gem formation, you begin to truly appreciate nature and all its power. Look how clean and clear it is. No flaws, as if some heavenly being molded it with bare hands. HMNS’s Hall of Gems has a wide variety of gem formations, is easy to navigate, and foot traffic seems to flow easily from begining to end of this exhibit all in the same direction. Having spent so much time in this one hall, I missed plenty of other halls. I will visit this museum again. Kudos HMNS! And thanks for 100 Years – 100 Objects: Mesolite with Fluorapophyllite!

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