By Eric Bradley

rhodochrosite“These are beautiful,” my wife said, peering into a glass case displaying a bold red specimen of rhodocrosite. “Maybe we should start collecting minerals.”

The comment brought our three kids running. She was right; the plate of gleaming crystals was as lush and red as a bed of zinnias. It was perched high in a case with other fine minerals on display in Dallas’ wonderful new Perot Museum of Nature and Science.

My wife and three children paused for a moment and I watched their expressions change from wide-eyed wonderment to contemplation. “These are just … found …. like this?” my nine-year-old daughter asked.

I didn’t want to ruin the mood and tell them that at Heritage I’ve seen minerals like these up close and personal. Specimens like these – and in some cases even bigger than the ones on display at the Perot – have passed through the auction gallery and catalog storerooms.

After the Madonna Rosa rose quartz specimen sold last spring, I was lucky enough watch mineral experts gingerly packed it in a sturdy, foam-lined crate. I was struck by how the experts cradled the specimen as they would a fine sculpture. Why wouldn’t they? Besides the piece’s impressive auction price, the crystal is every bit a work of art as a sculpture or painting.

In fact, the impact the mineral display had on my kids is no different than the impact they experienced seeing George Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte during a visit to The Art Institute of Chicago. The masterpiece of pointillism elicited the same wide-eyed reaction.

So when we head back to the Perot to learn more about minerals and how they’re formed and how they’re collected, we’ll also chat about colors, light and form –  and how nature’s miniature crystals are like Seurat’s miniature brush strokes.

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