4,000 Pounds of Crystal Mined in Arkansas Are Now on Glorious Display in NYC

david yurman amnh
Pure Arkansas Rock Crystals Are on Display in NYCDavid Yurman

When construction was underway on the American Museum of Natural History's new (and now open) Gilder Center, a soaring and sculptural wing dedicated to science, learning, exhibitions, and immersive experiences, there was discussion about how best to connect it to the rest of the NYC institution's buildings. The answer? Rock crystals (also known as clear quartz)—4,000 pounds of them, to be exact.

Which actually makes sense. The Gilder Center begins where the AMNH's 11,000-square-foot Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals—with its 5,000-specimen collection of geological treasures, from massive amethyst geodes and shimmering labradorite slabs to the Star of India sapphire and the Patricia Emerald—ends. Plus, what better way to christen a new space than with crystals famous among a certain woo woo set for their healing and purifying powers?

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Evan Yurman on the crystal hunt in Arkansas.David Yurman

And with excellent provenance too. Every single piece of rock crystal comes from Arkansas, home of the best quartz mines in the world. And each one was handpicked by NYC jewelry royalty: the Yurmans (David, Sybil, and their son Evan), who partnered with the museum on the project. The inspiration for the 19-foot-long sculpture, now known as the Yurman Family Crystalline Pass, came from a 70-foot naturally occurring vein of quartz found in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas (to get a sense of its size, the museum's famous blue whale also measures 70 feet). "It just caught my imagination," says George Harlow, the museum's curator emeritus in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science. "Nature does this."

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David Yurman at the Arkansas mine.David Yurman

It took 4,000 pounds of painstakingly excavated crystals, including one 1,300-lb. slab, to faithfully recreate that Arkansas vein (not to mention having it sculpted in sandstone and then broken down into pieces to be installed in the museum). The final result is a glimmering ode to earth's raw beauty. "They’re natural, just pulled from the earth, cleaned up," David Yurman says. "As you walk in it’s just spectacular.”

wide shot of kenneth c griffin exploration with david yurman crystalline pass in foreground entrance to gilder center from halls of gems and minerals
The new Yurman Family Crystalline Pass at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.Alvaro Keding

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