Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum Unveils New Home for Moon Rock

Gov. Bill Ritter and Colorado School of Mines President Bill Scoggins today unveiled a new museum exhibit for one of the “moon rocks” originally given to the state about 35 years ago.

The moon rock, which had been in the safekeeping of former Gov. John Vanderhoof in Grand Junction, will become part of a permanent public display in the School of Mines’ Museum of Geology starting Monday.

“On behalf of the people of Colorado, I would like to thank Mines for agreeing to incorporate this important piece of science and history into a public exhibit,” Gov. Ritter said. “Residents, visitors and students alike will now have an opportunity to learn – and to be inspired – by this new moon rock display. Space exploration is an important part of Colorado’s history and economy, and this display will serve as a great testament to where humankind has been, and where we can go.”

Also taking part in today’s unveiling was former NASA administrator and astronaut Richard Truly, who serves on the School of Mines’ Board of Trustees.

“We are proud to display this historical symbol of one of our nation’s most significant scientific achievements – successfully executing manned missions to the moon,” said Colorado School of Mines President Bill Scoggins. “For Colorado citizens – including thousands of schoolchildren who tour the museum each year on field trips — and for visitors of all ages from around the world, this moon rock represents what’s possible when great science and big dreams come together.

In 1974, President Nixon gave each state and 160 countries a set of two “Goodwill” moon rocks collected during the Apollo 17 mission. One of Colorado’s rocks has been on display at the State Capitol, but the other was thought to be lost until it turned up safely earlier this summer with Gov. Vanderhoof, who served as the state’s chief executive from 1973 to 1975. Gov. Vanderhoof suggested putting the rock on display at the School of Mines.

Colorado has a rich history of space exploration, with 21 astronauts either born or having attended college in Colorado. The state is home to one of the largest aerospace industries in the country, boasting 300 aerospace-related companies and nearly 170,000 jobs.

Image: Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum

The Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, started in 1874, displays mineral, fossil, gemstone, meteorite and historic mining artifact exhibits on two floors.

The museum serves as the state repository for Colorado’s mineral heritage and promotes its importance and understanding to the university community and the public. It aims to inspire scientific curiosity through education and research while encouraging appreciation of the earth and responsibility for its mineral, fossil, meteorite and historic mining treasures.

The main floor exhibits feature specimens from many Colorado mining districts, other global localities and an introductory video on area geology. The Special Exhibit Room hosts prominent precious metal and invited displays. The main gallery also showcases historic mining murals by Irwin Hoffman.

The basement contains numerous exhibits regarding radioactivity, fossils, basic geology, gemstones, meteorites, ultraviolet minerals and underground mining illumination. The outdoor geologic trail features seven outcrops with various geologic and paleontological points of interest, including fossilized dinosaur tracks, logs and leaves.

Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum General Research Laboratory (GRL) building, 1310 Maple St., Golden, CO 80401

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