A grand re-opening for the Meteorite Museum, housed in Northrop Hall in the UNM Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, is set for Thursday, Oct. 15 at 4:30 p.m.

The museum re-opening is also a part of the E&PS alumni reception as part of UNM's Homecoming activities.

This was the first significant renovation of the Meteorite Museum since its opening in 1974. This museum includes several meteorites from the extensive collection of the Institute of Meteoritics (IOM). The highlight of the museum is a one-ton piece of the stony meteorite known as Norton County, that fell in Kansas in 1948.

The old burlap-covered walls and outdated lighting at the museum have been replaced with sleek gray paint and energy-saving LED lights. The new display cases feature a futuristic design that make the meteorite collection appear to be flying through space. The colors of newly-restored pallasites will be highlighted by vivid backlighting. And, for the first time, a number of lunar and Martian meteorites will now be on exhibit.

The new design also allows for showcasing a rotating collection of specimens on loan from noted meteorite collectors and dealers. A large flat-screen monitor at the east end of the museum will feature video interviews with Director and Curator Carl Agee and IOM scientists discussing the collection, their work and the history of the museum. Agee came to the institute from NASA in 2002. He also is a Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and teaches courses about the Solar System and the planet Mars.

UNM founded the IOM in 1944 in response Professor Frederick C. Leonard’s plea for an institution for research on meteorites in 1941. The IOM was the first in the world to be devoted exclusively to research on meteorites. The first director of IOM was Lincoln LaPaz who also held a position as head of the Department of Mathematics and Astronomy at UNM. He significantly contributed to the meteorite collection that has been continuously added on to.

The original objectives of the Institute were to promote the recovery, exhibition and scientific study of meteorites, the advancement of pure sciences such as the study of meteors and practical applications of such knowledge. Click here to read more on the history of IOM.

Much of the funding for the museum’s renovation came from grants by the State of New Mexico led by the efforts of State Senator William H. Payne. The UNM Provost’s Office also contributed to the renovation.

For more information please visit the Meteorite Museum webpage.