Rutgers Geology Museum ranked as 14th best in nation
The Rutgers Geology Museum was named the 14th "most amazing higher-ed natural history museum in the country by bestcollegereviews.org.
The rankings were based off a number of criteria, including the number of artifacts or specimens in the collection, the number of opportunities provided to students by the museum and the museum's level of community involvement. To qualify for the rankings, the museums had to be open to the public.
Patricia Irizarry, associate director of the Geology Museum, said she was grateful for the high ranking.
“I feel great. We have put a lot of effort in the last five to seven years trying to make the Geology Museum an outreach center for the community," Irizarry said. "(This is) the best news we can get.”
The museum's mission is to educate the community about natural sciences, Irizarry said. It provides educational programs to schools and other community organizations in the New Brunswick area.
Lauren Neitzke Adamo, the museum's other associate director, said she was honored.
“It’s an honor because there are so many great museums around the country, (and) I’m happy we are listed among those other ones,” Adamo said.
The museum was founded by state geologist George Hammell Cook in 1872. Its collections include minerals, fossils and geologic specimens. Emphasis is placed on the geology of New Jersey and its surrounding areas, according to the Rutgers Geology Museum's website.
Collections are provided to the museum by contributing donors, according to the museum's website.
“What we have on display in the museum is only actually a small portion of collections. The rest of the collections are under the care of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences," Adamo said.
Thousands of additional samples are kept on the other campuses, he said.
One of the museum's largest exhibits is a mastodon skeleton that was found in Salem County, New Jersey, in 1869.
“George Cook bought this bone collection from a farmer that was a friend of his. Basically, he sent it out to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. to be mounted, and by the time that the mastodon came back (to Rutgers), it was (the) same year George Cook passed away,” Irizarry said.
Despite its importance to him, Cook never saw the skeleton in the Geology Museum, Irizarry said.
The mastadon skeleton is not the museum's only exhibit. A mummy also makes its home within its walls.
“I’ve been working since my freshman year, so I love it. I love the mastodon and the mummy so I can't pick which one is my favorite,” said Janelle Hincapie, School of Arts and Sciences junior and museum employee.
The public is unaware of a number of the Museum's exhibits, said Nicole Gryzbowski, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior and museum employee.
"(Another) really cool thing that has a Rutgers connection is the dinosaur trackways, and why it’s so significant is that the rocks those foot prints are preserved in are the same exact type of rocks that are beneath our feet at Rutgers,” Adamo said.
Christopher Bohorquez is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.