of mineralogy interest were also mounted for viewing. One of the maps depicted the mineral geology of Maine – and one of the contributors to the map’s preparation, Dr. Arthur Hussey, Bowdoin College Professor Emeritus, was on hand for the ground breaking.

 Keynote speakers for the ground breaking program held under a tent on ground which will hold the connecting wing included Dr Stifler, Dr. Carl Francis, former Curator of the Harvard Mineralogy Museum and Mary McFadden.

 Jim Mann who has been with the founders from the beginning in museum development was recognized as Bethel’s carrier of the dream to create a landmark mineral and gem museum in Bethel.

 Mary McFadden related how a person at a western conference she attended remarked that this museum will be an iconic building – in Bethel, in Oxford County, in Maine and in the world. In his remarks, Dr. Stifler said that we expect to have over 2000 school children a year visit the museum – we control four mines and besides tours school children will be able to visit the mines as well. Dr. Stifler cited a hundred year old axiom of Daniel Burnham, an architect and urban planner who was Director of Works for the Columbian Exposition in Chicago 1893 – make no small plans because small plans do not inspire people to do great things.

 After the speeches, Dr. Stifler and Mary McFadden were handed a “golden” pick ax and spade respectively.  The pick was swung, a patch of sod was pulled away and a spade of earth was removed.





To wrap-up the ground breaking program, the evenings “notables” assembled for a group photo (right). In the group were: Gary Howard, Bath, ME; Fred Bailey, Andover; Maggie Kroenke, Mt Mann; Mary McFadden, Founder; Barbara Barrett, Chief of Operations; Mary Freeman; Roberta Hunt, Museum Retailing; Dr. Arthur Hussey; Retired Bowdoin Professor Emeritus; Stephen T. Seames; Museum Librarian and Historian; Lawrence Stifler, Founder; Bob Ritchie; Dennis Powers; Gary Freeman; Jim Clanin. Jay Paulus, exhibitor designer attended but missed the photo op.


Groundbreaking and Open House

October 5, 2012

Barbra Barrett, Director of Operations, introduces the event and guests. Around Ms. Barrett —Mary McFadden, Lawrence Stifler, Carl Francis and James Mann.

Mary McFadden lifts the first symbolic shovel of earth for the new museum’s construction—representatives of the general contractor, Davis & Hanscom, Inc. of Steep Falls, were also present.

May 30, 2013

International Geologist Group Visits Bethel

Friday morning a hundred international leaders in geology and advanced geology students gathered at the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum. The visitors were recent participants in the 6th International Symposium on Granite Pegmatites. It was the first time such a meeting had been held in the United States. Their program consisted of two parts: a symposium held at the Attitash Grand Summit Hotel in Bartlett, New Hampshire and a field trip to five Oxford County sites - the new museum and four mines – Mount Mica in Paris, Havey in Poland, Bennett and Orchard mines in Buckfield and the Emmons mine in Greenwood.

Museum Director Barbra Barrett and MMGM Trustee Stephen Seames had been with the group all week. The symposium covered lectures, workshops, presentation of scholarly papers on chemicals present in Pegmatites and new research. One topic, for example, covered the issue of how does pegmatology interface with the mineral industry, society and market forces?

Director Barrett briefed the group on museum progress and near term goals. Then she led them on a partial tour of the museum’s layout and collection exhibits.  Museum founders Dr. Lawrence Stifler and Mary McFadden were also on hand to give the delegates an overview of plans for the museum’s role in the broader realm of worldwide mineral and gem interests.

I had a chance to talk briefly with people from Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic and South Africa. A woman from South Africa was carrying a red “tourist” bag – with Istanbul printed all over it. So I asked her if she was from Istanbul. She laughed and said “No, I’m from South Africa, but my husband is an aeronautical engineer who travels a lot and knowing I like these bags always brings one home from places he visits.  She asked, “Does Bethel have a bag like this? “- Not that I know of.

Two delegates from Montreal were interested in the Civil War soldier monument and their question was, “Who were the Loyal Sons?”  So we talked about the “Loyalists” versus the Unionists and the Confederates. They knew that some Loyalists had fled the US to Canada.

 Jan Filip from the Faculty of Science at Palacky University at Olomouc, Czech Republic is a researcher in water treatment technologies. We talked very briefly about Bethel’s water treatment system.



August  2013


August 2nd, Robert Whitmore of New Hampshire representing Dr. Skip Simmons, Dr. Karen Webber, and Dr. Al Falster of the University of New Orleans, delivered nearly a million dollars worth of lab and research equipment to the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum. Dean Richmond, his son, and a nephew, owners of the former Smith Farm in West Bethel, volunteered their assistance in helping Mr. Whitmore to make this delivery possible.


Although construction work goes on at the museum, the equipment was secured in the research lab (located in the former Odd Fellows hall). Dr. Falster is expected to arrive in Bethel about the 10th of August to complete installation and calibration in time for the museum’s opening.

Robert Whitmore explained how this equipment will be used to benefit research at the museum:

 “We’re going to put in a DCP. What you do is you make a little mud pie on a plate that turns and they X-Ray it – and they can get a chemical analysis from it.

Also we’re going to have an electron microscope which is already there (at the museum building); it has to go into the building and the will also give you a chemical formula – it’s just that it doesn’t do the light elements.

We’ve got two or three other things that might come up from the University of New Orleans – and that will be next year – then we’ll have a total of five pieces of machinery. And we’ll do research – all these young guys here that are working on their degrees and they can come up and spend a summer in a dormitory and be able to work on the machinery. There are no machines in New England right now.

All the universities have stopped doing it years ago – this research is never going to make money (for the universities or this museum). It is mostly pure research.

If someone comes here from a mine and they want to know what the mineral content is – you could charge them $15 or something like that - they find out what the chemical formula is and what the mineral species is – I don’t think that anyone is going to sit here and say they are going to make a profit from it – most likely a loss. But for northern New England it’s a wonderful little lab for very nice thing – science.

People around the world will know that there is research being done there (at this museum) and research facility.”

In other museum news, the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum participated in the Maine State Quilt Show at the Augusta Civic Center in July. Museum Executive Director Barbra Barrett designed a mineral exhibit which she and Steve Seames installed at the quilt show. Friends of the museum, Mr. and Mrs. Shawn Sweeney of Bar Harbor helped in setting up the mineral display. Anne Marie Saunders Peck, who is now employed by the museum and whose mother, Adrienne Saunders, operated a well-known, very successful Gem Shop in Bethel, assisted in taking the display down.





Robert Whitmore talks about museum research and research equipment

Museum Directory Barrett briefly covers the new museum’s plans for visiting international leaders in geology and advanced geology students gathered at the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum.

Visiting group tours museum work in progress.