If you live in Michigan, or are planning a trip there soon,don’t miss a stop at one of Grand Rapids’ newest museums: a small but beautiful jewel in the middle of Calvin College’s campus. The Bruce Dice Mineralogical Museum debuted in November this past year, right on the edge of Calvin’s North Hall.
The museum came about through the efforts of Bruce Dice, a 1948 alumnus of Calvin. Dice, a geologist, collected an astonishing quality and number of gems and minerals over a 30-year career, including one of only three known octopus fossils in the world (Lebanon).
Specimens range from white puffball okenite and gyrolite; huge pieces of copper ore (a specialty of Upper Michigan mines); to crystalized amethyst ‘flowers’.
We also drooled over plenty of other stones, including topaz-streaked chunks and raspberry-shaded rhodochrosite crystals (Sweet Home mine in Colorado). Origins range all over the world, including the U.S., India, Mexico, Australia, the Middle East, Brazil and Kenya.
Many of the stones are in crystal form (see above photo); nearly all are arranged on clear bases in light-filled glass cabinets, framed against wood-panelled walls. Some, like a fuzzy-edged boulder of clevelandite (also known as albite, shown on the cover of the brochure – link below), were too big, and crouched on larger stands.
A suite (group) of fluorescent minerals are fun to play with. A series of UV lights lets you view them in a variety of colors and shades, depending on which button you’re pushing. These pieces include calcite (red-orange), willemite (green), esperite (yellow), and wollastouite (orange). A number of meteorites, a small group of famous jewelry (copies) and large-sliced stones round out the collection, including a large ‘cathedral’ (or geode-type rock) studded inside throughout its length with amethyst crystals.
Dice donated more than 300 specimens: “I decided it was time to share … so [the collection] went to the love of my life — Calvin College.” Not all are on display; new pieces will be moved out occasionally to keep the museum displays fresh.
The Bruce Dice Mineralogical Museum can be found only after a stroll through several hallways in North Hall, past classrooms and chattering students. Since it’s so new, not all of the people you ask will know where it is, just ask for North Hall and follow the signs. The museum is open from 1:35 – 5:00 p.m. M-W-F only, but it’s free admission, and the student on duty will even give you an informal tour on request.