The Royal Ontario Museum Expands Gem and Minerals Hall

A $10 million gift from Canadian mining firm Teck Cominco Ltd has allowed the Renaissance Royal Ontario Museum project to establish the Teck Cominco Suite of Earth Sciences Galleries, the Teck Cominco Endowed Chair in Mineralogy, and the Teck Cominco Digital Education Module in Earth Sciences, as well as create a new home for the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame at the museum. The gift is said to be the sixth-largest private donation in the 93-year history of the ROM.

Three new galleries in the Teck Cominco Suite will include the Inco Ltd Gallery of Minerals and Gems, the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame Gallery, and the Gallery of Gold and Gems. The gift will also help double the volume of gems and minerals on display, digitize the entire collection, and bring the history of Canadian mining to the museum.

To help celebrate the opening of the new exhibits, the Black Star of Queensland will be displayed. The 733 ct. gemstone is reportedly one of the largest cut and polished black star sapphires in the world.

According to the museum, the original rough gem, weighing1,100 cts., was discovered in the 1930s in the town of Anakie, in Queensland, Australia. Purchased in 1947 by jeweler Harry Kazanjian, it was then cut and polished, revealing a six-ray star. The Black Star of Queensland, now set in a pendant necklace surrounded by 35 brilliant-cut diamonds, will be on view to the public for the first time since 1969.

The gem and mineral collection is one of the museum’s most visited attractions.

The new galleries will be part of the final phase of the $250 million Renaissance ROM renovation and expansion project. This includes the new Michael Lee-Chin Crystal wing, designed by Daniel Libeskind.

The Royal Ontario Museum is Canada’s largest museum of natural history. It houses 6 million objects, showcasing art, archaeology, and natural science from around the world. For more information, visit

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