Gold Nugget Stolen from UA Mineral Museum
On Friday, May 30, at approximately 2:30 pm, a gold nugget was stolen from an office at the UA Mineral Museum. This release provides additional information to supplement the University of Arizona Police Department (UAPD) Media Release about the incident. The missing gold nugget weighs approximately a half-pound and measures a little over three inches. The value of the nugget is not based on its weight, but rather on the worth that collectors place on its unique, aesthetic, and natural form.
The University of Arizona Mineral Museum, located on the lower level of Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium, houses one of the top-five University mineral collections in the world. With a core collection dating back to 1892, the Mineral Museum now holds more than 26,000 specimens. The Mineral Museum's permanent exhibit of over 2,000 specimens includes stunning minerals and meteorites from Arizona, Mexico and around the world.
The stolen gold nugget was not part of the secured collection. It has been used in the museum's public outreach activities for the last five years and is regularly shared with tour groups and at educational demonstrations to give people an experience with a natural gold nugget. It is the most photographed specimen in the museum's collection because people like to have their picture taken while holding it.
This theft took place outside the exhibits area and did not breach the security systems that protect the mineral specimens on display in the museum. Further, this is the only known theft of a valuable specimen from the UA Mineral Museum in its long history. The loss will be greatest for the thousands of school children and visitors annually who were able feel the excitement of holding a large gold nugget in their hand. The UA Mineral Museum, the Flandrau Science Center, and the University of Arizona hope that the specimen will be recovered.