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.
The grand opening of this state of the art museum, renamed the “University of Arizona Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum”, after the Alfie family whose initial gift made the move possible, has been postponed due to the pandemic but is now open for sneak preview tours at limited capacity.
The new facility, with exhibit space about thrice the size of the previous building, brings to light over 2200 gems and minerals from collections of the University and from loans partners, most of the collection being previously stored in the basement of the old museum. The specimens are displayed throughout the 12000 square-foot space organized in 3 new galleries, inviting the visitors for a fascinating walk 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 interactive, hands-on experiences.
Meyvaert was selected to provide 67 display cases, which include recessed wall cases, standing wall cases and freestanding cases. Except for the graphics, all internals such as shelves, podiums and scrims, were in our scope as well.
The design intent called for transparent structures to allow for maximum natural light and a feeling of spaciousness. The high rotation rate of the specimens also required extensive display flexibility, which is why the cases allow easy rearrangement of internals. To prevent exceeding the load bearing capacity of the floors in the historic building, spreader plates were used and Meyvaert engineered its display cases to be as light as possible. Another important feature of the exhibit design is audiovisual technology which has been seamlessly integrated in the cases.
UA Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum
Ralph Appelbaum Associates
67 recessed wall cases, standing wall cases and freestanding cases
Photos: Logan Havens