When people think about the Pacific Northwest, thoughts of evergreen trees, rain and rolling green hills typically come to mind. The last thing to come to mind, if it even occurs to anyone, would be rocks. Don’t let that fool you! Hillsboro is home to a large collection of unique rocks and minerals, housed at the Rice Museum.
The following exhibitions can always be found at the museum:
- The Main Gallery – In this gallery you can expect to find a vast collection of crystal, gemstones and minerals collected from all over the world. You’ll want to take your time with this gallery as there are over 20,000 items for visitors to enjoy.
- The Dennis and Mary Murphy Gallery – A collection of over 400 petrified wood samples are the result of 40 dedicated years of collection. Petrified wood is considered a fossil. When wood is buried in sediment, it preserves the plant from decaying. Then if the wood comes into contact with mineral rich water, the fibrous plant is replaced with minerals that capture the wood’s physical appearance, thereby preserving the specimen.
- The Northwest Gallery – This gallery celebrates the state of Oregon and the beauty it has to offer. Visitors will find a variety of Oregon’s state rock, the Thunder Egg and Oregon’s state gemstone, the Sunstone. Thunder Eggs are characterized by their rough and humble outer appearance with tantalizing insides that sparkle and shine with various colors and shapes. Thunder Eggs contain, opals, agates and jasper crystals; these may be present in any ratio to one another. Sunstones are beautiful gems, but not often seen in jewelry stores. They are known for catching people’s eyes as the facets within them appear to sparkle when they catch the light.
- The Rainbow Gallery – natural minerals can truly appear magical when they are put under black UV lights. Normal looking rocks can take on a whole new appearance as their fluorescent surfaces come to life. Think of the last ‘80’s dance you went to and you’ll begin to get an idea of some of the colors you might see in this gallery.
- The Fossil Gallery – Get transported back in time as you view prehistoric creatures and plants that have been preserved over the centuries.
Richard and Helen Rice collected rock and mineral specimens for over 50 years. Their adventure began in 1938 when they found some beautiful agates and jaspers on the Oregon Coast. Their interest peaked when they saw the transformation that took place after these gems were polished. From that time forward they were involved in rock and mineral clubs and collected hundreds of specimens. Their affinity with rocks and beautiful woods inspired them as they built their dream home with natural materials and plenty of room to showcase their collection. Wanting to share their passion for rocks and minerals with others, the couple organized a non-profit organization in their 80’s and their dream home is now the Rice Museum of Rocks and Minerals.
Many rocks and minerals have been donated or temporarily loaned to the museum over the years. Richard and Helen’s collection are constants for the museum, but other temporary exhibitions are rotated through the museum, check out their website for more information about special exhibitions!
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Make sure to check out our other local posts! After spending a few hours at the Rice Museum you might want to try out Voodoo Doughnuts for a unique and fun treat! As always, the Insight Family is here to help you with all of your pest control needs. Check out what life is like for one of our local techs, Matt Haws!