Allison and Robert Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals

by Ralph Appelbaum Associates

In 2021, the American Museum of Natural History’s world-renowned Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals were reopened with a completely new presentation. Within the renovated halls, an open layout invites curiosity-driven exploration. The three main divisions of the layout are the Minerals Hall, the Gems Hall, and the Melissa and Keith Meister Gallery for temporary exhibitions.

The Gem Hall includes a display of precious stones, carvings, and stunning jewelry from around the world that were fashioned from naturally beautiful minerals. The Mineral Hall comprises four sections; Mineral Forming Environments is a set of cases in the center of the Hall dedicated to the environments and processes by which minerals form. At the four corners, Mineral Fundamentals displays explore the concepts of mineral sciences, from the evolution of minerals to their properties to how they have been used by humans. Systematic Classification, a display running along the west wall, contains specimens that represent the chemical classification system scientists use to organize Earth’s more than 5,500 mineral species, as well as an interactive feature in which visitors can explore forming minerals from the elements on the periodic table. Finally, Minerals & Light, a room off the east wall, explores the optical properties of minerals and their interaction with light.

Foremost in the renovation concept was showcasing the Museum’s vast mineralogy collection. Over 5,000 specimens—more than half of which were not previously displayed—are on view in custom casework. State-of-the-art lighting draws out mineral colors, crystal habitats and sculptural forms, optimized to highlight color variation and refraction in gems and jewelry. A layer of inquiry-based interpretation helps to engage visitors through Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which offers tools for investigating science practices as they relate to mineralogy.

Pride of place is given to star sapphires and cat’s eyes, including the...


Silver in Integrated Graphic Design 2022

Created by:

Lead Designer

Ralph Appelbaum Associates

Design Company

Ralph Appelbaum Associates


American Museum of Natural History

Design Team

Kubik Maltbie - Exhibit Fabricators; ClickNetherfield - Display Cases; Photo Lab Inc. - Exhibit Graphics; Renfro Design Group - Lighting Designers


Individual Credits

Project Director / 3D Design Direction: Josh Dudley
Project Director: Melanie Ide
Art Direction: Christiaan Kuypers