January 4, 2022, Monthly Meeting

On Tuesday, January 4, 2022, at 7:00 p.m., we’ll be having our monthly meeting virtually, featuring…

The Maine Mineral & Gem Museum: Down to Earth and Out of This World with Dr. Carl Francis!

Members, watch your email for connection information!

The details…

On Tuesday, January 4th, at 7:00 p.m., we will conduct our regular monthly meeting virtually on GoToMeeting. After some brief club business, we will introduce our guest speaker at around 7:30. After the talk, we will continue the virtual tradition of randomly giving away 5 mineral specimens to attendees. 

Our inaugural talk for 2022 is from longtime BMC member and past President, Carl Francis, who has agreed to provide us with an update on the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum. Carl is a frequent speaker for the BMC, and many may recall his talk in 2013, where he provided us with his vision for this new museum planned for the heart of Maine’s mineral collecting region. We invited him back to give us a look at the museum now that it is open to the public. 

The Maine Mineral & Gem Museum in Bethel, Maine, opened on December 12 , 2019, and after some pandemic hiccups is now open full time. It preserves an important collection of Maine minerals assembled since 2005 and an unparalleled collection of Maine gems. The permanent exhibits present Maine minerals in the context of mining the local granitic pegmatites for feldspar and mica, with particular emphasis on gem tourmaline from Newry. The Discovery Gallery has additional displays and hundreds of New England and worldwide specimens arrayed in study drawers. The world class meteorite exhibit is a surprise to most visitors. The museum’s innovative displays (above, and on page 2) attracted 15,000 visitors in 2021. 

About the presenter…

For those who might not know Carl, he has been a contributing member of the BMC for several decades. Carl earned an AB degree at Amherst College, which he claims he attended partly because they had a nice mineral collection. He went on to the earn MS and PhD degrees in geology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. After graduating in 1977, he was appointed curator of the Harvard Mineralogical Museum, a position he retained until 2011. Carl gave his first BMC talk in 1977 to discuss his vision for the Harvard collection. I first met Carl at a BMC meeting shortly thereafter, and he made a lasting impression on me when, in the middle of an informal group conversation, he pulled a chrysoberyl sixling twin the size of a half dollar out of his jacket pocket to show us “something he was working on.” He was influential in allowing the club to move its meetings to Harvard and even took a turn as BMC President in 1981. He has published extensively in the mineralogical literature, is a fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America, and won the Carnegie Mineralogical Award in 1992. About a decade ago he made a career switch and joined the team assembling the mineral collection for the proposed Maine Mineral and Gem Museum, where he is now curator.