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AUGUST 1999 NEWSLETTER

Editor: Mark Mauthner

 

DENVER MEETING

            The Society of Mineral Museum Professionals will meet on Friday, September 17, 1999, in the Main Lecture Hall of the Mart.  The board meeting will start at 1:30, and the general meeting will run from 2:00 to 3:00.   See you there!

 

PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

            Finally!  A newsletter!to borrow the words of our past president.  Well, this time it is both your presidents and this newsletters editor at fault.  Weve both been incredibly engrossed in the establishment of the new Pacific Mineral Museum, which by the way, is now scheduled to open November 6th. 

            My lack of perceptible activity in either role (There is something decidedly undemocratic about one person holding the reins of power and the means of communication), however, is not indicative of what is indeed true.  Ive been thinking.  Honest.  In taking on this role, I was somewhat receptive to a certain board members words concerning the wonderful soap box opportunities of this position.  Onwards then

            I have been asked by non-members possibly interested in membership just of what value SMMP would be to them.  At first, the standard answers off the cuff involved a forum for ideas, a sense of community or an opportunity to share in a strongly-worded letter to some short-sighted bureaucracy somewhere.  Really?  For example?  Well, there are the symposia.  The point is that the SMMP really does have much to offer.  Much to the credit of some hard working individuals.

As our past president, Jean DeMouthe, stated in her last presidential message, our greatest potential is in the field of education. -- As a group, we have an incredible amount of knowledge and experience to share.  We have, in the past, tried to take this collective experience to the public with mixed results.  The display cases seemed to be well received, but other endeavours such as the public workshops less successful, for any number of reasons.  I am wondering about a basic question:  Just who is this organization for?  Do we want to spend our collective efforts doing what we do back home trying to provide an experience for a visitor?  Does the existence of the SMMP mean anything to the average show-goer in Tucson or Denver?  Probably not.  So, rather than a service club model, I believe the SMMP might want to follow a co-operative society model.  A club predominantly for and of its members.  For example, I am trying to put together some kind of the statement of the mineral world for the general public (i.e. an exhibit plan).  Do I need an organization in which I have to do that over again in an environment of extreme limitations?  Not likely.  What I need is a resource centre to which I can go to gain from the experience of others and to share what I have learned, so that I can return and do my job better.

            I am not suggesting that the SMMP is lacking in this regard, far from it, but am stating that, as president, I would like to focus more what efforts and time we do have for this organization on matters that will see a return for the membership.  What can we do to improve this function?

            First, I would like to revisit an idea that was discussed at the Tucson meeting.  Publishing our work.  A distinguished scientist once put it this way, an unpublished idea is of no value to anyone -- it does not add to the collective knowledge.  The symposia I have attended had value, but my note-taking skills are not necessarily the best, despite three degrees.  Even with good notes, retrievability is an issue if one is not highly organized back home.  We do have a newsletter, but it can become much more than it is.  I point to the efforts of our British counterparts in The Geological Curators Group.  They produce two well-written, relevant and informative publications:  the more informal Coprolite: Droppings from the Curators Group, and the glossy covered, seriously articled Geological Curator.  We also have a website (many thanks, Tony!), which is perhaps the tool we want to focus our developmental energies on. 

Second, lets look at what information we have that might be of interest to other members.  The last two years have seen the openings of two national mineral galleries and the development and implementation of the first mineralogical blockbuster travelling exhibit.  Any thoughts, analyses? As well, I am sure that there are visitor studies, notes on heated debates, case studies and the like just bursting from filing cabinets all over the continent.  Liberate them!  Give them a purpose in life!

There are a number of organizations doing things for the hobby, for the science, for mineralogy, but the SMMP is the only North American organization solely for the mineral museum professional.  In an age of depleting traditional resources, I think an organization such as ours is more and more vital for providing members with the opportunity to ameliorate skills necessary for not just doing better, but their very survival.

To close, I want to ask you to think about what we are doing and about how this organization can better serve YOU.  That is what the SMMP is about. I welcome your comments and suggestions.

Mark Mauthner
President

 

FROM THE EDITOR

Hey, you heard the pres.  You reap what you sow.  Submissions and ideas appropriate for this newsletter, and of course, constructive criticisms are all welcomed. Ed.

 

MEETING MINUTES

 

TUCSON 1999

Friday, the 12th of February 1999
Turquoise Ballroom, Convention Center, Tucson, AZ

 

DIRECTOR'S MEETING

Present:  Jean DeMouthePresident, Jeffrey PostVP, George HarlowSecretary, Anna DomitrovicTreasurer, Anthony Kampf, Virgil Lueth, Marc Wilson, Mark MauthnerNewsletter editor.

Pres. DeMouthe called the meeting to order at 12:03 PM.

Treas. Domitrovic distributed copies of the semi-annual financial report for SMMP, with her much-awaited email address: adomitrovic@desertmuseum.org.  The sizable balance, in excess of $7,000, and changes in bank ownership, etc. was discussed.  It was agreed that, with signatures in hand, Anna would place a sizable fraction into a Money-Market Account.

Website-meister Kampf reported that the Web-site was functioning properly, though the LACMNH had changed the server location.  The idea of developing a list-server was discussed, to enhance the Societys role as a source of information and answers; presently, there is no list-service carried out through our site.

Pres. DeMouthe discussed the plight of the California State Mineral and Mining Museum in Mariposa, CA, which may have an imminent orphaned collection.  She is keeping her eye on it and would mention the issue at the General Meeting.

Lost/Stolen Specimens:  Bill Metropolis was not in attendance, but a report is to be delivered at the general meeting.

There was much discussion, following the discussion at Denvers meeting and John Sinkankas letter about wanting the help of a museum in getting a tax appraisal for his donation to that museum.  This issue will be introduced at the General Meeting by Marc Wilson and discussed by Jeffrey Post.

The topic of Publications was raised, that is, whether the Society should be publishing the results of its workshops or surveys for consumption by the Museum and collection communities.  An example is the report on the storage of radioactive minerals by Ellen Faller or the review of modern conservation practices by Dorothy Ettensohn.

The Meeting was adjourned 12:55 PM.

 

 GENERAL MEETING

1:00 PM, 12 February 1999
Turquoise Ballroom, Convention Center, Tucson, AZ

President DeMouthe called the meeting to order at a few minutes past 1:00 PM.

Members responded to the Roll Call with personal self-introductions; See list of attendees below.

Minutes of Denver meeting on 9/18/98.  A motion was made, seconded, and unanimously adopted to dispense with a reading of the minutes.  (Minutes are on the Website)

Treasurers Report:  Anna Domitrovic delivered the semiannual financial report for SMMP, with her much-awaited email address: adomitrovic@desertmuseum.org.  The sizable balance, in excess of $7,000, and changes in bank ownership, etc. was mentioned.  She said that, with Board approval, she would place a sizable fraction into a Money-Market Account.

SMMP Web Pages:  Tony reported that the SMMP Web Pages were functioning well with lists of the mission statement, officers, membership, meetings, minutes, etc.  Job notices are a recent addition to the web pages.  He reminded people of the past concerns over listings of email addresses and encouraged members to include their email addresses with their listings.  He reminded people to check out the Website and to make comments, suggestions, job notices, etc.

Dick Herd suggested that SMMP have a list server for queries with an archive of communications for those who did not want to be actively dunned with messages but wanted to see discussions at their own discretion.  There was some discussion about the pros, cons, and commitments required to carry out a listserver function.  Tony said he would be prepared to respond on it by the next meeting.

Orphan Collections:  Virgil mentioned that two institutions who had been cited in the past a potential problems now have new mineralogical positions:  Paula Newsome is looking after minerals at the Utah University of Natural History, and Angela Breithaupt has recently  accepted a similar position at the Cranbrook Institute.

Mark Mauthner stated that the Pacific Mineral Museum now has a contract to use and care for the mineral collection of the former M.Y. Williams Geological Museum at the University of British Columbia.

Newsletter:  Mark Mauthner, newsletter editor, invited contributions to the newsletternews, announcements, statements, etc.

Stolen Specimens:  No new announcements, see Website for most recent reports.

Education:  Jean spoke in lieu of Ginny Mast who was absent for a family emergency.  The SMMP exhibition on meteorites and meteorwrongs appeared to be received well, as have the others of recent years.  Because this is one of the Society activities with the highest profile and popularity, the committee wanted to insure that plans would be made for future exhibits at mineral shows.  Sphalerite had been suggested for Denver, as it was to be the show mineral.  The Committee entertains ideas, support, contributions to future exhibits.

Tax Issues: Marc Wilson introduced the topic of tax advisement by Museums with respect to gifts-in-kind, a continuation of the discussion at the meeting in Denver.  The issue was raised via a letter of complaint from John Sinkankas who wanted assistance in getting an appraisal from the museum that received his donation.  Jeffrey Post summarized the previous discussion and the immutable problem in the U.S.  The Federal tax authority (Internal Revenue Service) considers help by the receiving institution to be collusion (i.e., fraud).  The Smithsonians position, which is similar to that of other museums, is to provide a list of appraisers/services without indicating any preferences.  In further discussion it was agreed by Post and Harlow that by the next meeting they would prepare a list of appraisers/services in the U.S. who were qualified in the areas of minerals and gems.

NSF-funded Education at GIA:  Mary Johnson discussed at proposal for funding an educational project in the 4th-8th grade curriculum level called Rocks to Rings which would provide students with information on gem minerals and their transformation into gems.  The GIA is seeking assistance in creating an Advisory Committee to assist on this project.  A questionnaire was handed out, the text of which is presented below.

Request for input by Fluorescent Society:  Don Newsome discussed the problems and inadequacies of the commercially available UV lighting for displaying fluorescent minerals and invited input into the design of new lighting systems. He mentioned that technology permits long-lived systems which can be turned on and off repeatedly with high output in either or short- and long-wave.  However, the issue of size, power, costs, etc. need some feedback from the museum community.  Responses and queries should be addressed to UV Systems, 16605 127th Ave. S.E., Renton, WA  98058  U.S.A.  email: uvsystems@aol.com  Web: http://www.uvsystems.com

New Business:  Jean DeMouthe announced the change in the editorship of the Societys Newsletter from Jim Hurlbut to Mark Mauthner at the Pacific Mineral Museum Society.  The president and members extended their thanks to Jim Hurlbut for his years of dedication to the newsletter.

Election of new Board Members:  Nominations for the Board included Susan Cowan, George Harlow, and Marc Wilson.  The secret ballots of the members present elected Susan, George, and Marc.

Election of Officers:  The board members went off into a huddle and returned with the news that the new President is Mark Mauthner; the other incumbent officers would continue in office.

Announcements:  Kay Robertson volunteered her services in deciphering German script, letters, and locations for eastern Europe.  Just send her photocopies of the text in question and she would respond.

Marc Wilson invited members to participate in the auction of specimens at the Carnegie Museums auction to support collections.

The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 PM

A post-meeting program on meteorites, to complement the Meteorites and Meteowrongs display was presented by Tim McCoy of the Smithsonian Institution.  Many thanks, Tim.

 

THINGS NEWSY AND/OR RELEVANT

 

OBITUARY: VINCE MANSON

Dear Colleagues,

On Saturday, July 3rd, D. Vincent Manson, former Curator of Mineralogy at the AMNH, passed away in California as the result of a tumor on his brain stem. Vince had successfully battled lung cancer over the last two years and was in good form for the San Diego opening of The Nature of Diamonds; he was a curator for that show because he inspired his employer, the Gemological Institute of America, to help the San Diego Natural History Museum host it. However, a month after the show opened he suddenly lost his hearing.  The source of this problem turned out to be fatal.

Vince left the AMNH for positions at the GIA.  In his last role at GIA, he was the Director of Forward Planning, what we humorously called, The Director of Dreams.  He was indeed successful with his dreaming, in bringing a new Campus for GIA to fruition at Carlsbad, CA; getting The Nature of Diamonds to San Diego, and the recent GIA International Gemology Symposium.

Sadly, Vince could not attend the celebrations of all these events during Symposium in June.

                I know I will miss Vince's infectious smile and throaty laugh and suspect those of you who remember him will be sad to hear of his passing.

                For those of you who want to send condolences to Averil Manson, Vince Manson's wife, her address is 2301 Masters Road, Carlsbad, CA 92008.

A research fund will be set up in his honor at the GIA, and a memorial service will be held on the GIA Campus in Carlsbad, CA.

George  Harlow

 

DENVER EXHIBIT

                The Denver SMMP exhibit will be Worldwide Sphalerites. Im looking for wonderful specimens from anywhere but Colorado. If you have a specimen to exhibit, please e-mail me the specimen information so that I can make labels. With everyones help, we should be able to cover the world.

Thanks,

Ginny Mast (vamast@mines.edu)

 

JOB POSTING

                After many years of service, Paul Clifford is retiring as Associate Curator of Mineralogy at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. All the best, Paul!

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is seeking a curator or associate curator to head its Department of Mineralogy. The position is responsible for the administration of the department, maintenance of a 35,000 specimen gem and mineral collection, assistance with exhibitions, participation in education and publication programs, managing volunteers, advising associated societies, and representing the museum to the public. An M.S. or higher degree in geology and at least three years of experience in museum mineralogy are required.

The curator is expected to be familiar with the collector market and to participate in national gem and mineral shows.

Interested individuals should send a letter of application, current resume and the names of three references to:

Dr. James E. King, Director,
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History
1 Wade Oval Drive, University Circle
Cleveland, Ohio
44106-1767

 

MEMBERSHIP / DUES

If the number on your mailing label is 99, then you are paid up through the annual meeting, February 2000. The Societys dues for 1999 is $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 also be sent to Anna Domitrovic.

 


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