Wayne State University today announced a new Geology Mineral Museum, which includes a collection of minerals once owned by inventor Thomas Edison and a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite, the first of its kind in Detroit. Located on the lower level of Old Main at Cass and Warren avenues, the museum will open to the public on May 19 and will feature the university’s collection of thousands of geological specimens.
The Edison collection contains 94 of Edison’s pieces, hand-picked by a Tiffany and Co. gemologist in the early 1900s. The collection was a gift from Edison to Henry Ford and eventually stored at the Ford Rouge Factory, and was passed to the university by a Rouge employee in the 1940s.
Also on display is a slice of plumbing from Edsel Ford’s historic Haven Hill estate in Highland Township, after construction workers salvaged the artifact and found several sparkling layers of crystallized calcite inside.
Additionally, visitors will see a collection of nearly 50 agates from around the world, and a display of antique miner’s lamps dating back to the 1800s. A collection of fluorescent and phosphorescent rocks illuminated by ultraviolet rays is also planned.
The museum will regularly rotate the minerals on display and host special events throughout the year, museum curator David Lowrie says. An academic services officer in the department of geology, Lowrie has worked at WSU for more than 50 years and knows the backstory of every piece in the collection, many of which he personally acquired.
The Geology and Mineral Museum will host a grand opening and open house from 3-7 p.m. on Friday, May 19. The museum will be open to WSU students and future geologists, and the department plans to host K-12 field trips by appointment.