Gem and Mineral Museum in Tucson Is One Step Closer to Opening

March 9, 2021

The University of Arizona's Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum, a brand new 12,000-square-foot facility at the historic Pima County Courthouse in downtown Tucson, is one step closer to opening.

With the buildout and renovation complete, the museum staff is now working on completing exhibits and displays. While an opening date for the museum has not yet been determined, UArizona is working closely with Pima County to be able to safely open to the public this year.

The facility will display more than 2,200 gems and minerals from collections held by the University of Arizona and loan partners. The museum's three main galleries and new showcases will focus on the evolution of minerals, minerals native to Arizona and Mexico, gemstones, jewelry and gem science. Visitors of all ages will be able to take part in hands-on, interactive activities.

"The vision of creating a world-class gem and mineral museum in the heart of Tucson has reached a significant milestone," said Eric Fritz, manager of the museum. Fritz is shown in the photo, above, adding a large specimen to a display case with the assistance of exhibit specialist Elizabeth Gass. Construction on the museum began in 2018.

Tucson is an ideal location for the museum because each year in February the city transforms into the dynamic center of the gem and jewelry world as 65,000 visitors stream in to participate in dozens of trade shows and exhibitions.

In fact, the Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum is named for the late Alfie Norville, a co-founder of the Gem and Jewelry Exchange show that runs during the annual Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase. An initial gift by the Norville family made it possible for the renovation and the move of the mineral museum from the UArizona campus to downtown Tucson.

Credits: Images courtesy of the Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum.