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Franklin Mineral Museum

The Franklin Mineral Museum is located in Sussex County of Franklin, New Jersey, USA. It is an open-air geology, mineral and mining museum, founded in 1964. Its main goal is primarily educational and scientific, with a mission to gather and spread knowledge about the mineral wealth of the area, as well as to encourage scientific research about it. It is a piece of heaven on Earth for any geologist, mineralogist, a mineral collector, or simply a mineral aficionado. The museum collects and displays the countless artifacts, specimens, and documents on the history of the mining area and the museum. Archaeologists and paleontologists alike shouldn’t be disappointed with the museum because it also acquires and displays various specimens from their area of interest.

History

In Franklin, New Jersey, and the neighboring town of Ogdensburg, world’s most famous zinc mines were located, producing up to 33 million tons of ore over the years. By 1950 the mines were nearing their end and closing completely in 1954. With the goal of preserving their tradition and cultural heritage, the community and the miners decided to sell the specimens and rocks from the mines to collectors and in 1959 the Franklin-Ogdensburg Mineralogical Society (FOMS) was founded by a group of those collectors. One of their main goals from the beginning was to found a museum which was dedicated to the local mines and minerals. Five years later, thanks to the Franklin Kiwanis club and the community’s efforts, the Franklin Mineral Museum was opened.

Educational and scientific mission

In 1810, one of the first mineralogical articles was published in New Jersey by a physician and mineralogist, Dr. Archibald Bruce, describing a mineral found in Franklin, New Jersey, which was new to science back then – zincite. This marked the beginning of the mineralogist research in the Franklin and Sterling Hill area. The research is still ongoing, articles are being published and new minerals discovered to this day. University students are especially encouraged to pursue their interests and do practical or investigative work at the Franklin Museum as a part of the research for their thesis and dissertations.

With its scientific and educational mission, the Franklin Mineral Museum offers something for everyone, for different age groups and levels of interest. Children and adults alike will be fascinated and excited with what they see, experience and learn.

For school children and their teachers, there are organized, guided tours. They are educational and interesting, but also practical. Children, as well as adults, can collect their own specimens in the rock field behind the museum, go gem panning, explore and dig for dinosaur fossils.

The Buckwheat Dump, a rock filed behind the museum is the main and the biggest collecting area, it has been a popular collecting spot for decades – new discoveries are still being made, including even the recently discovered three mineral species new to the area. This possibility of discovering new specimens and minerals is especially enticing for the visitors because they too can uncover something new, never before seen, and be explorers at least for a day.

What can you find in the museum?

There is a Local minerals room, where you can find collections with an incredible variety of mineral specimens on display – more than 5,000! It is one of the biggest and most diverse collections of minerals in the world. It includes important ore minerals, pegmatite, volcanic rocks, and others.
In the Fluorescent minerals room, you can explore the surreal display of fluorescent minerals. The main display is 32 feet long and it is unsurpassed in the world for the variety of its colors.

In the Indian room, there are numerous Native American artifacts, including the collection of stone tools made by the Lenni Lenape Indians, the earliest inhabitants of what later became New Jersey. The collection contains artifacts from all over the United States and Mexico and includes tools such as axes, spearheads, knives, as well as some pottery and baskets.

There is also a Fossil room with a wide variety of fossils from dinosaurs and different animals and a very interesting life-size mine replica. It contains underground mine passages where people can explore the mines, experience and see first-hand the mining methods that were used.

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