U-M partners with Michigan Tech on historic mineral collection


In a historic partnership, the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences will share ownership of its rich mineral collection with the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum at Michigan Technological University.

The Seaman Mineral Museum, the official mineral museum of the state of Michigan, will curate and exhibit specimens from the U-M collection at Michigan Tech. The mineral museum also will create and maintain mineral displays on the U-M campus.

U-M’s collection, which dates back to 1838, contains approximately 15,000 specimens ranging from local minerals to those found around the world, like a prized crystal group of stibnite from Japan. The minerals also range in quality, with more than 1,000 specimens rated “outstanding,” and multiple world-class examples.

“The collection is an extraordinary asset that showcases Michigan’s mineral wealth and the history of mineral exploration within the state and by University of Michigan professors,” says Chris Poulsen, chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences in LSA.

Part of the U-M mineral collection, this copper specimen is from the Phoenix Mine in Keweenaw County. (Photo by Debra Wilson)

The U-M mineral collection was established a year after the university moved to Ann Arbor, when the Board of Regents purchased the collection of European Baron Louis Lederer, whose specimens dated from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It grew to include minerals gathered by Douglass Houghton, the first state geologist and the second professor hired by U-M. The Upper Peninsula city of Houghton — home of Michigan Tech and the Seaman Mineral Museum — was named for him.

The collection also contains copper specimens once owned by Lucius L. Hubbard, a geologist who served on the governing bodies of U-M and Michigan Tech. Hubbard left parts of his personal collection to both universities, and this collaboration will reunite Hubbard’s collection under one roof.

“We are fortunate to partner with Michigan Tech and the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum to preserve (the collection’s) legacy and to ensure that it gets the attention that it rightfully deserves,” says Poulsen.

A curated selection of specimens from U-M’s historic mineral collection will be on public display at the Seaman Mineral Museum in Houghton beginning this week.

“This is a perfect example of state universities working together for the benefit of all the people of Michigan,” says Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz.


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