New Mexico Mineral Symposium
November 8-9, 2014
History of the New Mexico Bureau of Mines & Mineral Resources— Mineral Museum
Virgil W. Lueth1 and Robert W. Eveleth1
1New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources, New Mexico Tech, 801 Leroy Place, Socorro, NM, 87801
A little over 115 years ago the New Mexico Territorial Legislature established the New Mexico School of Mines (now New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology). The charge to the school was to provide for higher education in the earth and related sciences. The school's board of trustees (now "Regents") was assigned the responsibility of prescribing the various courses of study, of equipping laboratories and classrooms in a manner appropriate for instruction, and of assembling (for educational purposes) a geological and mineralogical cabinet. President Fayette A. Jones carefully selected and acquired many specimens during his travels for the fledgling school and to him must go the credit for creating, in 1899, the first collection. With little or no fanfare, Socorro's first museum of any kind was born. Nurtured by dozens of earth scientists over the years, the collection has steadily evolved through prosperity and depression, fame and tragedy, to a superb assemblage of more than 10,000 pieces today. The museum is maintained by the New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources, and its staff routinely draws on this mineralogical legacy to participate in educational events and gem and mineral shows throughout New Mexico and the United States. In addition, the collection provides ongoing aesthetic, scientific, and research benefits for all of society.
In the early 2000s, the Bureau of Geology and New Mexico Tech began planning for a new building for the New Mexico Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources. The wood frame building currently occupied was cobbled together over several years and has many roof leaks, inadequate bathroom facilities, and is not ADA compliant. We also have 85 years’ worth of irreplaceable archival materials which are at risk. In addition, our staff, laboratories, and our world-class Mineral Museum are in five different buildings scattered across the New Mexico Tech campus.
A site for the new building was selected between MSEC, the building that houses the Earth and Environmental Science Department, and the Skeen Library. The new 53,000 square-foot LEED certified building will include new public spaces that will allow much easier access to our Mineral Museum, the Publications Office ,the Geologic Information Center (which houses our library and archival materials), and our Subsurface Data Library (which houses our petroleum records). The building will also house our analytical laboratories. Funding for the new building will be provided, in part, from revenues generated by General Obligation Bond C for higher education capital improvement projects, which was approved by voters during the November 2012 election.
35th Annual New Mexico Mineral Symposium
November 8-9, 2014, Socorro, NM