Making of Treasures of the Earth

Happy New Year from the Science Department of the Bruce Museum! A lot happened at the museum in 2017, including the opening of one of our most dazzling exhibits yet, Treasures of the Earth: Mineral Masterpieces from the Robert R. Wiener Collection. 

Treasures of the Earth features almost a hundred minerals from the personal collection of a local mineral enthusiast. These are pieces never before displayed in public, and we are very happy to be able to bring these hidden beauties to the community. 

 Photo by Kate Dzikiewicz

Photo by Kate Dzikiewicz

Though the exhibit opened fairly recently, it's been in the works for some time. Initial preparations for Treasures of the Earth involved meeting personally with Mr. Wiener and selecting the specimens for display. His collection numbers in the thousands, making the selection process no easy task (but a very fun one). 

Once we finalized our choices we started designing the exhibit. We printed out photos of each mineral and experimented with different arrangements, making sure to account for the dimensions of each piece. Some of the minerals could fit in the palm of your hand, while others are so large they require multiple people to move them. Colors and shapes of the minerals were no less varied.

 Photo by Kate Dzikiewicz

Photo by Kate Dzikiewicz

In the weeks before the exhibit opened, minerals began to arrive at the museum. We stored them among our permanent science collection, locked and sealed away to ensure their safety. Larger minerals arrived in separate plastic crates like these ones, but the smaller ones were housed in archival cardboard boxes.  

 Photo by Kate Dzikiewicz

Photo by Kate Dzikiewicz

Then, it was finally time to put everything in place. Above, Science Curator Dr. Daniel Ksepka meets with our Director of Exhibitions and the Senior Exhibit Designer. Even if the exhibits are designed ahead of time, there are always edits and tweaks that will happen as things are coming together.

 Photo by Kate Dzikiewicz

Photo by Kate Dzikiewicz

Here, some of the larger minerals wait on a blanketted cart before their turn to be put into place. 

 Photo by Kate Dzikiewicz

Photo by Kate Dzikiewicz

Though Bruce Museum may be smaller than other institutions, we make up for our size with a brisk rotation of temporary exhibits. We have a permanent science and history gallery, but aside from that, all exhibits are temporary. Between art and science, we put on 12-14 temporary exhibits per year! We paint the walls, construct new cases, and sometimes even move walls for each new exhibit. 

In this image, one of our museum education managers examines a mineral on a cart while the exhibit preparators sit in a corner and wait for paint to dry. Soon, they'll be adding glass to the cases, one of the final touches.

 Photo by Cynthia Ehlinger

Photo by Cynthia Ehlinger

Above, Mr. Wiener admires a crystal from a young mineral fan's collection at the exhibit's opening reception. Mr. Wiener acquired his love of minerals at a similar age after being amazed by a museum display. As we look at our finished exhibit, we wonder, might Treasures of the Earth inspire a new generation of mineral collectors?

Photo by Paul Mutino

The Bruce is a museum of both art and science, and Treasures of the Earth with its stunning demonstration of natural beauty and form encapsulates that mission. The exhibit is open until April 1, 2018, so you still have plenty of time to see the minerals sparkle in person.

- Kate Dzikiewicz, Paul Griswold Howes Fellow

Want to attend one of our Treasures of the Earth public programs? Click here for information.