News

December 3rd 2019 – Richard W. Hutchinson Geoscience Collaborative Suite is now open for researchers!

It has been a busy several months here at the Richard W. Hutchinson Geoscience Collaborative Suite. This summer brought a hectic time in which students were busy moving specimens from the Suffel Collection out of our old storage area in Somerville House and into the Hutchinson Suite. Throughout the Summer term, 10 work study students were able to pack up, move over, and put away in the Hutchinson Suite approximately 50% of the Suffel Collection (approximately 15,000 cataloged specimens).

Throughout the month of June, our curator Dr. Alysha McNeil was busy planning and working with Zone Display Cases on the installation of our new wall display cabinet! This cabinet arrived mid-June 2019 and took a week to build inside the suite. After the cabinet was built, our curator and the 2019-2020 G. Gordon Suffel Fellowship Award Winner, MSc. Student Juliana Casali, spent the next two months picking the best specimens from the collections and preparing and labeling them for display. This case is of archival quality (air tight) and will preserve the best specimens of the Dana and Suffel Collections on display for years to come. Below are some photos from the installation process and the completed cabinet.

Display cases in shipping containers in hallway
The display case in shipping crates in the hallway outside of the Hutchinson Suite
Display case in pieces around the suite
The first pieces of the display case are brought into the suite for assembly
Display case is beginning to be assembled
The display case is beginning to be assembled in place in the Hutchinson Suite
The display case, completely assembled and filled with specimens
Our display case, fully assembled and filled with the best specimens from the Dana Minerals and Suffel Ore Deposit Collections

Also during this time, a team of staff and faculty from both the Earth Sciences Department and the Faculty of Science Dean’s Office were busy preparing for a Grand Opening Event for the Hutchinson Suite. This was a closed event for Earth Sciences Department faculty, staff, alumni and donors to celebrate the official opening of the suite to researchers and individuals interested in working on the Dana and Suffel Collections. As we are still in the process of moving in the rest of the Suffel Collection, we are not yet open to the public or for bookings of the suite. Please contact geocollections@uwo.ca for more information if interested in visiting the Hutchinson Suite. We will have an open house event once we are ready to fully open to the public. 

This brings us to the current Fall 2019 school term. As this term and 2019 come to a close, our curator is working alongside a team of 12 work study students (and still hiring if anyone reading this is interested) to move the rest of the Suffel Collection out of our previous space in Somerville House. As of December 1st 2019, 65% of the collection has been moved into the Hutchinson Suite. The final date that we are required to be completely moved out of the Somerville House space is fast approaching, and thus we are working hard to meet this deadline.

Suffel Collection specimens in boxes and on floor, being sorted to be put away in the Hutchinson Suite
Rocks from the Suffel Collection in boxes and on the floor, to be sorted and put away in the Hutchinson Suite

As this will be our last news update for 2019, from all of us here at the Richard W. Hutchinson Geoscience Collaborative Suite, we wish you a very merry holiday season full of cheer and family gatherings, and a happy new year. See you in 2020!

May 17th 2019 – Renovations and a successful mineral sale

It has been a very busy school year here at the Richard W. Hutchinson Geoscience Collaborative Suite and this post will briefly summarize the important aspects of what has happened since the last update of October 2018.

Our curator and work study students were kept busy throughout October, November and December 2018, as they were sorting and organizing a very large donation of minerals to our Dana Minerals Collection. By the end of December, this donation was sorted, physically incorporated into our Dana Collection, and put away in temporary storage in our new space in NCB 120. It was necessary to store the Dana Collection in temporary cabinets (not their permanent home) as we were under a time crunch to clear out our large future display room so that it could be renovated starting in January.

The renovation of our space started at 7am on January 3rd, the first day back from the Christmas break. This renovation included new ceiling tiles in our main display room, new flooring throughout the entire space, and painting of all the walls. The first phase of the renovations was completed at the end of January 2019 and the second phase (Campus Police mandated security features) was just completed at the beginning of May 2019. We are still fundraising towards a renovation for an exterior door access – if you are interested in donating, please visit our “How to Donate” page.

The end of April brought the end of another term of classes for our work study students. A total of 15 work study students and volunteers assisted with the creation of our new space this term. Without their help, it would not have been possible to complete the move of the Dana Collection into its permanent storage location, and add over 4000 new specimens donated by Arnim Walter into our electronic catalogue - more than doubling the amount of specimens in the Dana Collection! Additionally, these students set up and helped run our first ever mineral sale to raise funds towards completing our new space here in NCB. The sale took place on March 22nd and, through the sale of excess and duplicate specimens, we raised almost $6000 towards future renovations and display cabinet purchases for the facility! On behalf of the entire Earth Sciences Department, I would like to sincerely thank all of the students who worked or volunteered at the facility over the past school year – we couldn’t have come this far without you!

The beginning of the summer term always brings changes to our work tasks here at the Richard W. Hutchinson Geoscience Collaborative Suite – with less students on campus and nice weather, rocks can be moved across campus with ease. As such, our curator is in the process of hiring new students and volunteers, and has begun the move of the Suffel Collection from the Somerville Tunnel to NCB.

We are also looking forward to the installation of our new large wall display cabinet which is scheduled to be installed at the end of June. Our next update will be provided once it arrives!

October 11th 2018 – Hiring new work study students and mineral sorting

As the summer term came to a close, so did the work term for our Summer 2018 work study students. What better way to celebrate the end of the term than with a pasta lunch at the Grad Club. The next task ahead for our curator was to hire a new team of work study students to assist the Richard W. Hutchinson Geoscience Collaborative Suite. Currently, our Curator Dr. Alysha McNeil has hired four new work study students to work with the rock and mineral collections. Additionally, two students have volunteered to work with the collection to gain valuable career experience. Over the next 8 months this team will be working on finishing verifying the Suffel Collection catalogue, assisting with the move of the Suffel collection to NCB and other duties necessary for the completion of the Richard W. Hutchinson Geoscience Collaborative Suite. 

Currently, the team of work study students and volunteers are working alongside the Geoscience Collections Curator to sort a collection of minerals that was donated by Arnim Walter into their respective Dana mineral groups. The sorting of the Arnim Walter mineral specimens will allow for their easy incorporation into the Department of Earth Sciences Dana Collection. Once sorted, these specimens will be cataloged as part of the Dana Collection and stored in the Richard W. Hutchinson Geoscience Collaborative Suite. This collection is full of beautiful minerals, such as the Wulfenite that is pictured below, and is a valuable addition to our existing Dana Collection. 

Wulfenite from 179 Mine, Gila Co., Arizona, USA. Donated by Arnim Walter.

Wulfenite from 179 Mine, Gila Co., Arizona, USA - Donated by Arnim Walter

August 27th 2018 – New storage cabinets arrive at North Campus Building (NCB)

At the end of May, 59 new Lane Science geological storage cabinets were ordered to compliment our existing Lane cabinets that will store the Suffel and Dana Collections at the new Richard W. Hutchinson Geoscience Collaborative Suite. These cabinets are specifically designed to preserve geological and paleontological specimens. Over the course of three days last week, these new cabinets were shipped from their manufacturer to Western University and placed in the Richard W. Hutchinson Geoscience Collaborative Suite. Each truck load of 20 cabinets and associated drawers completely filled the atrium outside NCB 120!

New cabinets and drawers on pallets in the halls of North Campus Building
New cabinets and drawers waiting to be unboxed in the halls of North Campus Building

Thanks to the help of three work study students, the Dana Collection has already made its move across campus to NCB 120. This week, our existing Lane storage cabinets that were previously housing the Dana collection in the Somerville House tunnel will be moved to the Richard W. Hutchinson Geoscience Collaborative Suite as well. After all of the cabinets get properly secured in place, the Suffel Collection can begin its big move across campus, and the Dana Collection can be unpacked and placed in its new home. A new group of work study students will be hired in September to help complete this endeavour. If you are a potential work study student reading this - please apply! As the Suffel Collection contains thousands of thin and polished sections, the collection will be moved slowly across campus during the Fall term to prevent any damage and ensure the location of the specimens in NCB is correctly recorded in the new collections database. The next few months will be filled with packing up the Suffel Collection in Somerville and unpacking it in NCB! 

 

July 27th 2018 – Welcome to the Geoscience Collections Facility website!

After years of delays, the Western Earth Sciences Department was finally given control of the future Richard W. Hutchinson Geoscience Collaborative Suite space in North Campus Building, NCB 120, on July 1st 2018. This suite of rooms will house both the Suffel and Dana Collections and will also contain an event space, where select specimens from the collections will be on display. This space will also be available for public events, outreach, and short courses. 

As with all new undertakings, there are bumps in the road along the way. When we took possession of NCB 120, the previous occupants had left us a surprise - electronics and other unwanted items left scattered around the rooms. The building caretakers are currently clearing out the previous tenant's leftovers and cleaning up the space so we can begin moving in shortly.

While waiting for the new space to be prepared, four work study students under the supervision of our new Geoscience Collections Curator, Dr. Alysha McNeil, have been busy verifying the integrity of the Dana and Suffel Collection catalogues. This project was started at the beginning of July and to date the Dana Collection catalogue has been completed and the Suffel Collection catalogue verification has just recently begun. The end goal is to have a complete and accurate catalogue of both the Dana and Suffel Collections so that a database can be created with public access from our website. Students and researchers will be able to search our collections for specimens relevant to their research projects, and request a sample for loan through our website. As the combined quantity of samples between the Suffel and Dana Collections is upwards of 50,000, the endeavor to verify and complete the catalogues will take some time. 

At the end of May, 59 new metal storage cabinets were ordered to replace the old wooden storage cabinets that currently house the Suffel Collection that were damaged when the Somerville House tunnel flooded a few years ago. These cabinets are expected to be delivered and installed in the Richard W. Hutchinson Geoscience Collaborative Suite at the beginning of August. Once these cabinets have arrived, the collections will begin their move from the Somerville House tunnel to the new space. 

This project has been in the planning stages for many years now; it is exciting that we have finally gained access to our new space, and real progress has been made on building the Richard W. Hutchinson Geoscience Collaborative Suite. From everyone in the Western Earth Sciences Department, we would like to thank everyone for their continued patience and support. Updates on the project will be posted on this website regularly, so stay tuned for more news and updates on the implementation of the Richard W. Hutchinson Geoscience Collaborative Suite!