This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

Photo credit: Rick Jones

Explore the A. Scott Warthin Museum of Geology and Natural History

You’ve been back to campus for reunion. You’ve walked into the Aula to register. But have you ever turned right instead of left at the entrance to Ely Hall and visited the A. Scott Warthin Museum of Geology and Natural History? Now on display, says museum curator Lois Horst ’04, are a number of new and old treasures, including a stuffed Great Auk (recently rediscovered in Olmsted Hall), which has been extinct since the late 1800s. The museum also has a “Souvenirs” case, featuring “bullets from Waterloo, a piece of George Washington’s coffin, a bit of mosaic from Pompeii,” and a chunk of cooled lava with an Italian coin embedded in it — possibly collected by Matthew Vassar himself, Horst notes in the summer edition of Terra Firma, the earth science and geography department’s annual newsletter.

The museum has also recently unveiled a new cabinet for its fluorescent minerals collection (pictured), which, Horst says, took months of work to finish. The glowing specimens are housed in a retrofitted armoire in a windowless foyer outside the department’s administrative offices, with black melamine lining the interior of the cabinet and a Plexiglas shield in front to protect viewers’ eyes from the ultraviolet light of the lamps. (One of the samples is actually a Vassar “VC” made from fluorescent sand.) The new display is very popular with schoolchildren, Horst says. “The total effect is stunning,” she writes in an article in the July/August issue of UV Waves, the newsletter of the Fluorescent Mineral Society. “When we switch on the UV lights, the collective ‘Ooh!’ is very satisfying!”

November 2008

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