Ok, so it’s not a museum. Could have fooled me, were it not the fact that all the stuff, from strange and bizarre, to wonderful and incredible. I mean, the first things I saw when I went in the front door (The building must have been beamed down to Tucson from maybe 120 years ago..and hasn’t been repaired in all that time. But it fits… (Sign on the front door cracked me up…”We paid an New York architect to a lot of money to make our building look this way”…and they’sll sell you dust from the shelves for $5 an ounce) Being just down the road from Old Tucson western movie studio and the entrance to Saguaro Cactus National Park.) were five or six human skulls. Couldn’t believe it. A Roman Gladiator (must have been Goliath!), a soldier from the Alamo with an unfortunate bullet hole in his forehead, a Roman slave from Wales covered in copper crystals from a mine cave in, a 500 year-old Spanish Conquistador skull with a metal ax buried in his head (ouch), and an actual Mayan Emperor head complete with a copper, jade and gold eye, and a copper ornimented head band minus the feathers. Then I looked up and there was a big rat preserved or actually petrified with solid copper (he got trapped in a hole in the ore of a copper mine maybe thousands of years ago) Where can you see (or buy!) a Borneo shrunken head or a wizened ancient Egyptian mummy’s brain?> That’s just the starters. Tens of thousands of beautiful crystal specimens, a zillion years-worth of rare and common fossils (My eyes bugged out (no pun intended) at the insects in amber..and my favorite, a huge selection of fossil trilobites) and artifacts..mostly ancient..from every corner of the world, and gobs and gobs of stuff from Arizona Indian craftsmen, and endless precious and semi precious gemstones. (Got a peek into the back office which was piled to the ceiling with unopened boxes, crates, piles, cabinets and drawers of “stuff” they haven’t yet identified, labeled, catalogued, etc. THERE’S NO ROOM in the two galleries for any more. The owners, a couple of wonderful and hugely friendly and museum trained guys. Rich and Ron knew every minutia of information about every specimen there. We’ve never met more friendly and beyond fair to them selves generous guys…ever! It must have been 150 degrees outside the afternoon we visited Tucson Mineral and Gem World. They saw that we were wilting. True to form, each of the five us got a coke or bottle of ice cold water…on the house. I’m still reeling form the experience. On the way out, they hand each of the kids a bag and pointed them outside to their Iron Door Mine Dump and told them to have fun and fill the bag up with mineral and fossils ..for free! Even their two dogs were part of the “show.” My daughter asked me if the Airedale and little rat terrier weren’t tour guides in disguise! It’s an A+++++. Please don’t miss this destination..and getting there will take you through some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere, and maybe only a 20 minute drive from the City. Their address is 2801 S. Kinney Road
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