Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals Highlighted as a Destination

John Gottberg Anderson wrote a travel piece for the Central Oregon newspaper, The Bulletin, recently highlighting Washington County and the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals, our favorite rock and mineral museum and a partner and affiliate of the Tualatin Valley Rock and Mineral Club. As all members know, our club was founded by the Rice family.

The article highlights the museum by describing a feature exhibit:

There are few more stunning sights in Oregon than the Rainbow Gallery of fluorescent minerals at the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals.

Step behind a blackout curtain to see otherwise colorless rocks explode into brilliant colors — emerald green, cobalt blue, fiery red, yellow, orange, pink, purple — when they are bathed in ultraviolet or “black” light.

Colors emerge as short-wave and long-wave fluorescence flows upon the rocks, activating impurities within them. Specimens of more than 500 types of minerals, about one in every seven, are known to fluoresce. They come from every continent and in virtually every color of the rainbow.

The Rainbow Gallery at Hillsboro’s Rice Northwest Museum displays a remarkable collection of fluorescent rocks. As they are bathed in short-wave and long-wave ultraviolet (or “black”) light, the rocks’ impurities are activated and these brilliant colors emerge.

The article includes interviews with Executive Director Julian Gray and Curator Leslie Moclock.

It also highlights the passion many in Washington County have for nature, and the museum.

Oregon’s Washington County, which embraces the Tualatin River Valley, is far from unknown to business travelers. Home to technology company Intel and numerous other high-tech firms, along with footwear and clothing giant Nike, it is a destination for visitors from around the world…My most memorable discovery was the Rice Northwest Museum, open weekends and Wednesday through Friday afternoons.

Richard and Helen Rice were passionate rock collectors beginning in the 1930s, when they became enamored of agates they gathered on the Oregon coast. “Richard had money at a time when there were incredible minerals to be bought,” Gray explained. “He got involved in lapidary and learned to cut and polish his finds. But it began as a hobby.”

The couple built a ranch-style, flagstone home in 1953 and raised three daughters there. They displayed their specimens in lighted cases. As the family grew and moved away, the collection took over the house, and when the senior Rices moved out, their home became a private museum. It was accorded nonprofit status in 1996, a year before its founders’ deaths.

The Tualatin Valley Rock and Gem Club often hold meetings and special events at the museum, and participate in most of the major festivals and events with many of our members volunteering and working hard to ensure these events are successful.

Remember, as part of your membership, admission to the Rice Northwest Museum is free.


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