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With an hour left on Sunday to visit the Gem and Mineral Hall of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, I had no time to waste. I was going to be in Houston for 24 hours. The following morning I had a meeting at the Petroleum Club, the top floor of the Exxon Building, which by the way also has an outstanding gem and mineral collection.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science is more than just science. My favorite part of Texas, and I lived there for ten years, is its history. The French, Spanish, Texas Republic, Mexican, and American chapters create a narrative unlike any other state. There is plenty of that in the museum.
However, I was there for the gem and mineral hall, and wow was that an effective hour.
The gem and mineral hall is very dark, as the pictures reveal. So what you see are the gems and minerals in optimal conditions, in the dark, with a spotlight shining on them. What this does is gives you a sense of their true color. There is no reflection from any glass, not refraction.
The layour is in a room that must be shaped close to a horseshoe. You start walking along one wall, work your way around to the back, circle back to the front, and then there is a center section, kind of like the infield to a track, and you can cruise around it next.
That’s one way to take in the gem and mineral hall.
The variety is worldwide, some of the specimens were the largest I had ever seen, and the whole being in the dark was something different.
So my only advice to not follow, is try not to arrive when you only have an hour. There is the entire museum to explore, which covers paleontology, biology, botany, space, astronony, Texas History, anthropology, and so on.
Do follow this advice however – you are very close to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the Menil Collection. I recommend them all.