Striking Gold

Striking Gold

The Peabody Museum is closed, and yet, through the documentary magic of photography, you can still go for the gold.

* * *

Technically, it comes in leaves, crystals, plates and dust. Romantically, it comes in flowers, fingers, flames and suns.

sponsored by

Knights of Columbus Museum

It’s California gold, now starring in California Gold at the Peabody Museum. Featuring almost two dozen rare specimens alongside vintage tools of the gold trade—all on loan from a private collection—the one-case show illuminates not just historic methods California miners used to find, extract and assay gold but also, in accessible terms, the geological processes that positioned and shaped the gold those miners sought.

Like its neighbors, the show’s centerpiece, nicknamed “Sonoran Sun,” emerged from cooling subterranean magma chambers beneath the Sierra Nevada mountains. Perhaps a foot across and fittingly molten in appearance, it’s a contrast to smaller examples bearing more geometric or crystalline features.

sponsored by

New Haven Symphony Orchestra

Richard Kissel, the museum’s director of public programs, marvels at the natural yet “sculptural” character of the exhibit’s precious contents. Stefan Nicolescu, the museum’s collections manager for mineralogy and meteoritics, says the quality and size of the specimens render the show “one of the most spectacular” displays of its kind “in the entire world.” Aiding the spectacle is the exhibit’s dramatic design and lighting—what museum director David Skelly describes as a “more modern way to display these sorts of objects.”

In other words, at the Peabody Museum, the gold strikes you.

California Gold: Modern Marvels from the Golden State
Yale Peabody of Natural History – 170 Whitney Ave, New Haven (map)
Currently closed due to COVID-19
(203) 432-8987

Written and photographed by Dan Mims. This lightly updated story originally published on April 17, 2018.

More Stories