Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems
The museum's first mineralogy exhibit consisted of about 550 specimens loaned by Professor Gustave Guttenberg, then purchased after his death in 1896 to become the core of the museum's collection. In subsequent decades, it was augmented primarily by gifts, including Andrew Carnegie's 1904 donation of the notable mineral collection of William W. Jefferis of West Chester, Pennsylvania (about 12,000 specimens), and a donation in 1902 of 2,600 gems from John L. Lewis, President of the Lewis Foundry & Machine Company located in Groveton, Pennsylvania. The museum also acquired ores and metals representing Pittsburgh industries, including tin, lead, copper, antimony, and bismuth, as well as local steel products, oil-bearing rock, crude petroleum, coal, coke, and graphite. Starting in 1969, trustee Henry L. Hillman provided substantial donations for purchasing new specimens and building the current exhibit hall, which opened in 1980, and was expanded and remodeled from 2006-2007.
Today Hillman Hall contains more than 1300 specimens arranged in the following major sections:
- Mineral Properties - physical properties of a variety of minerals.
- Locality Suites - illustrates the diversity of mineral species that come from a single geographic environment and how they impacted civilizations.
- Pennsylvania Minerals and Gems - specimens representing some of the finest minerals and gems from Pennsylvania.
- Systematic Collection - exhibiting minerals in systematic groupings by chemical classification according to Dana's System of Mineralogy.
- Masterpiece Gallery - an esthetic collection of notable mineral specimens from around the world.
- Wertz Gallery - the museum's gem collection, containing 17 permanent exhibits that display nearly 530 pieces, including a breathtaking Birthstones exhibit.