Along with the number of dealers increasing, Tellus Science Museum’s 23rd annual event now features indoor and outdoor sales and numerous educational, hands-on activities for children.
“They called it the Rock Swap [in the beginning],” Tellus Executive Director Jose Santamaria said. “Collectors bring over their .... specimens and swap them with other collectors and sell to the public as well. It just became very, very popular and more professional dealers started coming. So it started off with just maybe 10 dealers and now we have about almost 30.
“... [At this year’s event] there will be dealers selling jewelry and gems, mineral specimens, carved objects made out of very decorative rocks. So this is not just for the mineral collector. Although this is obviously well-attended by people who like to collect minerals, [the event] also [attracts] people looking for gifts — for example, there’s a lot of jewelry — [and] also people looking for the nice, big geode, big fossil to use to decorate their homes or just looking for neat things.”
Selling their specimens throughout the event — June 8 and 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., a complete list of RockFest’s dealers is posted on Tellus’ website, www.tellusmuseum.org. With activities scheduled for the whole family, RockFest also will feature a live auction, outdoor rock wall, Rock Bingo, planetarium shows, door prizes, and mineral and fossil identification.
“It’s just a really great family event,” Santamaria said. “If you’re a member of the museum, it’s free. So we don’t charge any extra for that. And if you’re a member of the public, it’s just included with the regular admission.
“Obviously, minerals and fossils and gems are the core of what we’ve been about for years, even before Tellus. So this is a way to kind of bring that to light, to educate the public more about minerals and mineral collecting, to kind of promote the idea of people collecting mineral specimens and to educate them more about that. And one thing we’re going to offer, we have a whole crew scheduled [June 8 and 9] to do mineral and fossil identification. So people that have been collecting stuff over the years and forgotten what they have, we’ll share with them what they are and teach them how to identify their specimens.”
Proceeds from the auction June 8 at 5:30 p.m. in the Tellus Cafe will go toward acquiring new specimens for Tellus’ collection. The offering will feature items, such as calcite from Missouri and Diamond Hill quartz.
“The items are very special,” Tellus Curator Julian Gray said. “They’re from a number of locations worldwide actually. We have some that were collected right here in Georgia, and we have some beautiful quartz crystal clusters that were collected in Antreville, S.C., just over the line in South Carolina. Then we have some other mineral specimens that were found in India. So we have a pretty good diversity here. These are nice pieces that would be nice on a bookshelf or nice decorator pieces, too, [because] they’re pretty large.
“... These funds are going to be restricted for use for acquiring new things for our collections. These are things — minerals and fossils — that will go on exhibit in the museum. So that’s very important to continue to support our collection acquisitions. This is one of very few ways we have of acquiring new things for the museum. It’s one of the best ways that people can help us. It’s really nice when they can donate mineral specimens, but it’s even better when they donate cash because we have a target list of things that we want to buy and having cash on hand that we can use at our discretion to purchase these things is very important to fulfilling our mission as a museum.”
Encompassing 120,000 square feet at 100 Tellus Drive in Cartersville, Tellus is comprised of four main galleries — The Weinman Mineral Gallery, The Fossil Gallery, Science in Motion and The Collins Family My Big Backyard hands-on science gallery — a 120-seat digital planetarium and an observatory. A Smithsonian affiliate, Tellus has attracted more than 800,000 visitors since opening in January 2009.
For more information about the museum and its upcoming events and programs, call 770-606-5700 or visit www.tellusmuseum.org.