University of Arizona Gem & Mineral Museum reopens in stunning Pima County Courthouse

The University of Arizona Gem and Mineral Museum, originally established in the 1890’s, moved its location from the University campus to the historic Pima County Courthouse in the heart of Tucson. The major renovation of this iconic building, started in 2018, is now completed, showcasing its magnificent Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. This state-of-the-art museum was renamed the “University of Arizona Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum”, after the Alfie family whose initial donation made the move possible. After postponing the grand opening in the spring due to the pandemic, and then only opening for sneak preview tours at limited capacity, the museum is now fully open to the public.
The new facility, with exhibition space about three times the size of the previous building, brings to light more than 2,200 gems and minerals from collections of the University and from loans, most of which were previously stored in the basement of the old museum. The artefacts are displayed throughout the 12,000 square-foot space organized in 3 new galleries, inviting the visitors for a fascinating tour through Earth’s geological history. 20% of the collection will be rotated every year, encouraging visitors to keep coming back and looking forward to new hands-on, interactive experiences.
Meyvaert was selected to provide the 67 cases, which include recessed wall cases, standing wall cases and freestanding cases. All internals but the graphics were in our scope as well (shelves, podiums and scrims). The design intent called for transparent structures that allow for maximum natural light and a feeling of spaciousness. In addition, the high rotation rate of the artefacts required extensive display flexibility, so the cases allow for easy rearrangement of internals. As an important feature of the exhibit design, audiovisual technology was seamlessly integrated in the cases. In order to prevent exceeding the load bearing capacity of the floors of the historic building, spreader plates were used and the cases were engineered to be as light as possible. 

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