Universities Come Together to Preserve Historic Mineral Collection

Mineral Samples - A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum
Mineral Sample – A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum

The University of Michigan is home to a comprehensive collection of some of Michigan’s most unique and significant minerals. Michigan Technological University is home to the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum, the state’s official mineral museum. So it comes as little surprise that the two research institutions would collaborate, working to preserve and present an interesting part of the state’s legacy.

University of Michigan Collection

The University of Michigan first started collecting mineral specimens in 1838, just one year following their relocation to Ann Arbor. It includes world-class samples from not just Michigan, but the world. “We couldn’t be more excited about this collaboration,” said Glenn Mroz, Michigan Tech president. “This is a perfect example of state universities working together for the benefit of all the people of Michigan.”

For several decades now, the UM collection has been inaccessible for the general public. This partnership will bring the collections back to the people of Michigan once again. Chris Poulsen, chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan described the collection as “an extraordinary asset that showcases Michigan’s mineral wealth and the history of mineral exploration within the state and by University of Michigan professors.”

“We are very excited about the new collaboration between the University of Michigan and Michigan Tech to conserve and display the [University of] Michigan mineral collection that, in recent decades, has not been accessible to the public,” Poulsen said. “We are fortunate to partner with Michigan Tech’s A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum to preserve its legacy and to ensure that the collection gets the attention that it rightfully deserves.”

Houghton Specimens

Douglass Houghton was the first geologist for the state of Michigan. He was also only the second professor hired by the University of Michigan. His work spanned the globe, including mineral samples from remote locations in Italy and off the coast of Japan. But of primary significance is the collection of unique samples from around Michigan such as his copper pieces from the Quincy Mine and the Phoenix Mine on the Keweenaw Peninsula. His work will be included in the greater University of Michigan specimen collection sent north.

A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum

As it stands today, the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum is already a nationally recognized mineral musem. It is home to the largest public exhibit of minerals from the Great Lakes region. The museum is overseen by Executive Director Dr. Ted Bornhorst. He spoke about the importance of this collaboration.“The University of Michigan has a long and distinguished mineral legacy. Part of our core mission is to preserve minerals for future generations and educate people about the importance of minerals to society. Preserving the University of Michigan mineral collection at the official mineral museum of Michigan is a natural fit with our mission.”

Notes and sourcing:

A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum

MTU News Story

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