Spann Exhibit of Unique and Rare Crystals

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The Rice NW Museum of Rocks and Minerals announced today the public viewing schedule for the new Spann Exhibit of unique and rare crystal specimens. Starting Saturday, March 23, the Museum will put on display a noted collection of international minerals, loaned by celebrated collectors Gail Copus Spann and her husband Jim, and they will be at the Museum that day to answer questions. The minerals will be available for public viewing about one year, before returning to the Spanns, and are directly central to the Museum’s goal “To Engage, Inspire, and Educate.”

Visitors will marvel at the international flavor of the display, with prized specimens from Vietnam, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Thailand, Brazil, and Uruguay, among others. The scope of represented mining districts and collecting locales is truly inspiring, and adds to the Museum’s allure.

Gail Copus Spann is currently the vice-president of the Museum’s board of directors. She said she was happy to loan her pieces to the collection for a year. “The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals is a true gem for students, teachers, and visitors to learn about earth sciences, and is a key ingredient in local Science, Technology, Environment, Arts, and Math (STEAM) curriculum,” she noted. “I hope this collection can help inspire the scientists of tomorrow and encourage them to consider a lucrative career in geological science.”

The Spanns started their collection years ago after visiting a museum in Houston. They found themselves in the Gems and Minerals Hall where they both fell in love with the idea of having something like those displays in their home. That evening Gail went online and looked up ‘Mexican Wulfenite’ after falling in love with one she had seen. After a quick search, she remembers leaning back in her chair and proclaiming loudly to Jim, “Hey Honey! You can BUY this stuff!” And they did, to the tune of 13,000 pieces in 14 years, and going strong. “The importance of museums might be more important than people think,” Gail recalls fondly. “You never know who you might inspire with just one single specimen.”

Gail and Jim will be available for questions and press interviews at the Museum on Saturday, March 23. Jim will be available from 10-3 and Gail will be available after 1:00. Video interviews can be conducted in front of the display in the Main Gallery, and office space is available as well.

The Spann Collection brings to the Museum about 100 fascinating and beautiful specimens. It includes a rare tongue-twister such as Plumbogummite, a unique lead oxide with the chemical formula PbAl3(PO4)(PO3OH)(OH)6.  According to, this mineral was “named in 1819 by François Pierre Nicolas Gillet de Laumont from the Latin “plumbum” for lead, and “gummi” for gum, in allusion to its lead content and appearance at times as drops or coatings of gum.”

There are more interesting stories behind many of the other specimens to be on display.

Images are available in the attached document. 

Janice Crane

Executive Assistant

Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals

26385 NW Groveland Drive, Hillsboro, OR 97124

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