Mineral Madness at the Tellus Museum

I recently went to the Tellus Museum in Cartersville, Ga. It was a wonderful experience and I took a ton of great reference photos for my artwork. I was very inspired by the breadth of their collection and found myself filled with ideas after perusing their extensive mineral and fossil collection. It was just what I needed and I couldn’t recommend it more if you find yourself near the area.


The mineral collection is one of the largest I’ve ever seen. There are three giant areas like the one above plus an additional end-caps and stand alone pieces scattered throughout. It took me several hours to get through the entire collection (partially because I took over 1000 photos while doing so). I went on a Friday morning and aside from the momentary burst of influx from a school group the museum wasn’t too packed and I didn’t feel rushed to get through things. The quartz specimens are numerous and there is so much variety it’s hard to remember that the forms are all related. I was unaware that certain forms of quartz could take on patterns like the one in the photo above.

Several giant amethyst geodes are scattered throughout the collection – some are quite large. But the real “gems” (sorry, I had to do it at least once) for me were the specimens where minerals found themselves married together in interesting ways. And then there were the colors! Such a beautiful array of neutral and muted hues!

Also to my delight, the fossil collection included a great selection of coral and sea-life – not at all what I’d expected. I was particularly fascinated by the Crinoids (seen directly below) and sea urchins. I was excited to get the chance to purchase a reasonably priced sea urchin fossil in the gift shop – a prized addition to my personal collection. Adventures at the Tellus MuseumAnd what would a visit to the natural science museum be without an assortment of dinosaur bones! I was impressed by the scale of their t-rex and mammoth but I was more keen to ogle the real specimens such as this Velociraptor Skull and a (un-pictured) Saber-tooth tiger skull. And the gift-shop! OMG! I was so happy… but then, I typically am when rocks are involved. My mom has told me that she’d often find rocks in my pockets growing up… I have a habit of collecting them so I can’t pass up the opportunity when presented.

All in all, a great day. With only an hour drive there and back, the bulk of the day was devoted to the collection and an IMAX show (on super volcanoes) and I had less time than intended to explore the area. I will say, there is a great western museum in the Cartersville (that I will share more from next week) that I wish I’d been able to explore a little more.

I’m thinking about encouraging my Drawing I and Intermediate students to attend – maybe arranging a voluntary field trip – sometime this semester for a drawing excursion. With the recent popularity of gems, minerals, and dinosaurs I’m optimistic they would be at least slightly as keen as I was.





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