TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Tucked inside the Old Pima County Courthouse is a new "hidden gem."
"It's really been built to be an inspirational and educational museum for pretty much everyone," said Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum Manager, Eric Fritz.
Renovation and build-out of the University of Arizona's Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum started in 2018. This month, staff are working on the finishing touches.
"Most museums want people to have that 'aha' moment. or a feeling that they were really inspired when they leave the museum. We decided we wanted to make that happen as they move from gallery to gallery," said Fritz.
The museum has three main galleries.
"Right when you first enter the museum, there's that 'wow' moment. We have a lot of visuals. As you enter the Arizona Gallery, we have a recreated stope. As you enter the Gem Gallery, we have huge touch specimens of precious gemstones and minerals," said Fritz.
2,200 gems and minerals are displayed throughout the 12,000 square-foot space. Many of the pieces are native to Arizona and Mexico.
"We want to change 20% of our exhibits every single year. That will be based around the gem shows," said Fritz.
Fritz wants visitors to come back year-after-year.
"We want to be ready when it's safe to do so. All we will need to do is unlock the door and welcome people in," said Fritz.
The University of Arizona hopes to open the doors to the Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum sometime in 2021. To donate, click here.