As a kid, Eric Long would collect the cool and pretty rocks that he found. Through the years, and specifically for the past decade or so, the Texas resident became a serious mineral collector and …
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The Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum, 1310 Maple St. in Golden, is free and open to the public. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 1-4 p.m. on Sundays.
For more information, visit www.mines.edu/geology-museum.
As a kid, Eric Long would collect the cool and pretty rocks that he found.
Through the years, and specifically for the past decade or so, the Texas resident became a serious mineral collector and connoisseur.
“The more you learn about (rocks, gems and minerals) — how hard they are to find, how rare good specimens are — it makes you think about the complex science behind their formation tens or hundreds of millions of years ago,” Long said in a statement from the Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum.
With the goal to pique other peoples’ curiosity for rocks, gems and minerals, Long recently donated 27 pristine specimens, valued at about $3.2 million, from his personal collection to the Mines Geology Museum.
The specimens in this donation were sought out from the world’s best mineral dealers and collectors, said Ed Raines, collection manager for the Mines Geology Museum.
“These are significant pieces,” Raines said. “Each and every one is a superb example of crystal form, habit and association with other minerals.”
A few examples from Long’s donation include blue topaz from Brazil, green prehnite from Mali and wire silver from China.
“A donation of this caliber truly elevates the quality of our exhibits and also heightens the experience for our visitors,” said Renata Lafler, executive director of the Mines Geology Museum, in a press release. “We are absolutely thrilled to share this generous contribution with the public and encourage everyone to come see these natural works of art.”
The Long donation went on display on Feb. 11. Currently, all 27 specimens are on display in the museum’s Llewellyn Special Exhibits Room. They will stay there through Fall 2019 and will then be incorporated into the museum’s permanent displays based on their country of origin.
The newly-donated 27 pieces join the museum’s 22,000+ catalogued minerals and specimens of meteorites, fossils, gemstones and mining artifacts.
Long is a veteran of the oil and gas industry, and now serves as president and CEO of USA Compression Partners, an Austin-based third-party provider of mission-critical compression services, equipment and applications to customers across the oil and gas industry.
“Both the museum and Colorado School of Mines have so many opportunities from an educational perspective to help open people’s minds about the extractive industries, and we hope that these beautiful minerals can help serve as a gateway,” Long said in a press release. “What better way to encourage kids’ interest in STEM topics than by stimulating their intellectual curiosity through minerals.”
This donation is Long’s fifth donation to the Mines Geology Museum in the past five years.
Long and his wife Tracy Walsh, a Colorado native, have a mountain home in Colorado. The two were introduced to the Mines Geology Museum through Hugh Harvey, a Mines alumnus — undergraduate class of 1974 and class of 1980 for his master’s degree — and their neighbor.
People have been ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the Long donation, said Daniel Schlegel, Mines Geology Museum’s operations manager.
“Their eyes light up when they see it,” Schlegel said. And “they gush about how beautiful it is.”
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