Volume 8, #1
January 26, 2005
* * *
A Mineral Excursion
In 2004, noted mineral photographer Jeff Scovil and Dr. Guanghua Liu visited the important mineral mining districts of Hunan Province in China. The purpose for this two-week excursion was to photographically document the localities that produce some of the country's fine mineral specimens. Jeff's program for SMMP will expand on his article published in the January/February 2005 issue of Rocks & Minerals magazine, with additional mineral photographs and stories
* * *
This years meeting in Tucson will hopefully represent a milestone in the progress of our organization. We will unveil the new grant program that was proposed at Tucson last year and developed by the Board of Directors since that time. Years of dues collection coupled with very few expenses allow us to promote our mission via a financial assistance to qualified institutions. It represents a great opportunity for our organization to make a tangible contribution to the mineral museum community.
The program would not have been possible if not for some forward thinking by our members and the work of some specific individuals. Tony Kampf established the electronic newsletter and the low tech list server (now high tech), providing the vehicle for our communication. However, electronic publishing by itself would not have led to our currently healthy financial situation. The membership embraced the electronic formats and essentially brought the societies publication expenses to zero. Continued dues payments and excellent financial stewardship by Anna Domitrovic built the treasury to a level that allows us to start the grant program. Although the maximum is a modest sum of $1000, it can make a real difference in many museums struggling with inadequate funding for curation or display infrastructure. Think about how your institution could benefit from one of our grants and apply.
Thanks to Peter Davidson for a report from the October SMMP Europe-IMA/COM joint meeting at Munich in this newsletter. A very interesting discussion took place at that meeting on what seems to be a recurring theme; traditional classification and science based displays vs. aesthetic and education based types (not either are mutually exclusive, of course). Interesting reading and a subject we as curators come across often.
For those of you making the trip, I look forward to seeing you in Tucson. If you will not be there this year, email me by Feb. 7 if there is something you would like us to consider at the meeting.
Virgil Lueth, President
* * *
Three board member terms will be expiring this year. Please be prepared to nominate candidates and vote. Board members whose terms expire this year are:
Dimitri Belakovskii Fersman Mineralogical Museum,
The term expiration dates of the other board members are provided in parentheses in the sidebar above.
* * *
At the 2004 Tucson SMMP meeting, there was a call for compiling Museum Collections Policies. If you have your museum policy online, please send the URL. Otherwise you are welcome to email it to Patty Frisch (email@example.com) or send me a paper copy to Patty Frisch, NMBMMR NM Tech, 801 Leroy Place, Socorro, NM 87801. Please do so before the meeting if you have not responded yet.
* * *
In the past, we have been utilizing a simple email distribution list for SMMP on the email server at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. We have now established a real list server, also on that server. You will see a few minor differences in the new system. The new email address is <firstname.lastname@example.org>. When you reply to an email sent via our list server, you will be replying to the sender, although you have the option of copying the membership.
Tony Kampf will continue to process additions to and deletions from the list server. That way we can limit the list to our membership and if a member decides that they want to be dropped from the list, Tony will know whether to send them the SMMP Newsletter by snail mail. Note that henceforth you will only be able to send via the list server by using your email address that is on the list server. This should be the same one that is used in our on-line roster..
Please let Tony know if you have any questions or notice any problems with our list server.
* * *
* * *
Report on the joint
meeting of the
The 2004 meeting was the fourth annual meeting of the European Branch of SMMP. The aim is to attract Museum Curators, whether SMMP members or not, to an informal meeting to discuss items of mutual interest. At last years meeting, it was decided that it would be easier and simpler to hold the IMA-CM and SMMP meetings together. In previous years, the SMMP meeting would precede the IMA-CM one, but it was found that people attending one would also attend the other. The joint meeting was timed (as always) to take place during the Munich International Mineral Show on Friday, October 29th, 2004 from 4:30 pm in the meeting room A 52.
This year 21 curators from 9 countries attended.
The meeting was jointly chaired by Dr. Lydie Touret (Paris School of Mines/France) as Chairwoman of the CM and Peter Davidson (National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh/Scotland) as European co-ordinator of the SMMP.
Dr. Touret opened proceedings with a short report of the 5th Museums & Mineralogy Conference (M&M5), held in Paris from the 5th to 9th September. The conference judged to have been a great success with over 150 participants from 27 countries presenting 46 oral and 41 poster contributions. Among the participants, there was a good mixture of ages with a fair sprinkling of new faces amongst the battle-hardened veterans of the museum world. The lecture hall was always filled in spite of the obvious attractions of Paris and the hot weather. Dr. Touret also announced that there were 4 applicants to host the M&M6 in 2008: St.Petersburg/Russia (School of Mines and University), Lisbon/Portugal (University), and Denver/Colorado/USA (Colorado School of Mines). The IMA-CM will now write to each of the applicants during 2005 asking for more detailed information. A final decision will be made at the next CM Business Meeting during the IMA Conference in Kobe/Japan 2006.
The M&M5 Report was followed by a very lively debate initiated by Federico Pezotti (Milan/Italy). Mr Pezotti, along with J.C. Boulliard (Paris/France) and Carlo Grammaccioli (Milan/Italy), made some rather critical comments about mineralogists who claim that there is a crisis in Mineralogical Museums. They also criticised those museums who answered this crisis by developing new gallery exhibitions which only showed a few aesthetic pieces and neglected the scientific content. Amde Djemai and Lydie Touret (Paris/France) both averred that there was a kind of evolution taking place in museums of natural history and that many institutions were being forced to move away from the traditional-style of museum exhibitions.
It was clear from the debate, that in the experience of many curators there are now two distinct groups of mineralogists/curators working in museums:
It was also pointed out to the meeting that finance and resources play a very much greater role in deciding Museums exhibition and research policies. In some Museums, mineralogy or geology has to compete with a number of other subjects for money and staff to be allowed to undertake research and exhibition programmes. This can have an enormous effect on the type of exhibition a museum can put on.
It was announced the 2005 was to be World Year of Physics As part of this programme, The Paris School of Mines (Ecole des Mines de Paris) will put on a special exhibition entitled From Graphite to Carbon.
Stuart Mills (Melbourne/Australia) urged the meeting to make better provision for the inclusion of younger people in the work of museums and especially in mineralogy. He pointed out that it was vital to bring fresh blood to the subject of mineralogy and that by exciting the interest of children of high school age, we could perhaps persuade some of them to continue into mineralogy.
Terry Huizing (Cincinnati/USA) informed the meeting that the Dick Bideaux (Tucson/USA) has passed away. Dick was well known and well liked, especially among those who were lucky enough to visit the Tucson show.
As always, the SMMP meeting provided an opportunity to collect subscriptions/dues as well as signing up new members. To that end, I would like to extend a warm and hearty greeting to our two new members, Gilla Simon from Munich and Gisela Lentz from Kiel.
The next meeting will be held on Friday 28th October 2005 at 16:30. I extend an open invitation to all members of SMMP as well as Museum Curators who expect to visit the Munich Mineral Show. Details of the meeting will be given nearer the time.
I would like to thank all the participants of the 2004 meeting. It was a pity that in the short time available we were unable to develop the debate on Is there a crisis in Mineralogy? further. I especially would like to thank Lydie Touret for chairing the meeting and providing her report on M&M5. I would also like to thank Kay Schrmann for help with the arrangements, for keeping the minutes (on which this report is based) and for keeping the meeting bowling along in his usual inimitable style. Finally, I would like to thank Johannes and Hermi Keilmann for the free use of the meeting room.
* * *
American Geological Institute (AGI)
Although the Society of Mineral Museum Professionals maintains no official ties with the Commission on Museums (CM) of the International Mineralogical Association (IMA), the Commission resolved at its December, 2000, meeting in Melbourne, Australia, to support SMMP's efforts in uniting mineral museum professionals worldwide.
* * *
SMMP dues are $10.00 U.S., payable to Anna Domitrovic, treasurer, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2021 N. Kinney Road, Tucson, AZ, 85743. Any directory changes or additions should be sent to Tony Kampf. In Europe, dues can be remitted to Peter Davidson, National Museums of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF, SCOTLAND.
Note that you can check your dues payment status on the SMMP on-line roster. The year shown in the last column indicates the last year for which you have paid. If you are delinquent, please remit your dues payment as soon as possible.