Mineral Museum Exhibits
The Highland Centennial Gold Nugget
The Mineral Museum is the home to the Highland Centennial Gold Nugget, weighing 27.5 troy ounces. The nugget was found by the Stratton family in 1989 while placer mining in the Highland Mountains south of Butte. The nugget is believed to be the 7th largest gold nugget found in Montana.
The Rheanna Star
An incredible smoky quartz cluster over two feet in diameter, was discovered by Zach Johnson near the Delmoe Lake area. The Museum acquired the "Star" in June 2009 and it is now on permanent display in the Mineral Museum.
Minerals from Butte and other Montana localities
Butte was once home to one of the biggest copper mining operations in the world and was known for ‘electrifying’ America during the late 19th century and early 20th century. The Mineral Museum has spectacular specimens from the underground mines, including the copper minerals such as bornite, enargite, digenite, and covellite, and other minerals such as rhodocrosite and molybdenite. The underground mines closed in 1978. Open pit mining continues today in the Continental Pit.
Known as the “Treasure State”, Montana continues a long tradition of mining. Copper, molybdenum, gold, talc, and various rocks are commercially important, and collectors seek out minerals such as agate and sapphires.
The Fluorescent Mineral room provides a stunning display of minerals under short wave and long wave ultraviolet light. When exposed to certain wavelengths of light, some minerals fluoresce. See how the mineral halite (also known as salt) changes when viewed under ultraviolet light.
Touch and Feel
Large specimens of minerals are scattered throughout the museum for visitors to touch and examine up close.Specimens include a large amethyst quartz geode from Brazil, and a giant smoky quartz crystal from the Butte area affectionately called “Big Daddy,” which weighs 397 pounds.
Could it happen here? Maybe! Butte is in a 'quiet' zone within the active Intermountain Seismic Belt. Video displays show earthquake epicenters around the world as they happen as well as real-time seismic traces from a recorder near Butte.
What would an earthquake feel like? Have a seat, read about it, jump up and down on our earthquake simulator pad, and experience it for yourself.