100 Years – 100 Objects: Phosphophyllite

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.that we’ll be sharing here – and at 100.hmns.org– throughout the year.

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,


Unificada Mine, Cerro Rico de Potosi, Bolivia

Phosphophyllite crystals from Potosi, with their beautiful bluish green color, brilliant luster and attractive transparency, are among the most highly desired treasures in the mineral world. They are rare today because most crystals were destroyed by mining before their identity was even understood. Any size crystal larger than one centimeter is highly valued, and this 6.8-cm twinned pair of gem crystals, the second largest known, should probably be considered priceless.

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.

You can see more images of this fascinating artifact – as well as the others we’ve posted so far this year – in the 100 Objects section at 100.hmns.org