Thursday, January 31, 2008

2008 Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase

Every third week of January until the second week of February, Tucson, Arizona plays host to the “Greatest Show on Earth” in the mineral world (Wilson 2004). I refer to the annual Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase, now on its 52nd year. Popularly known as the Gem and Mineral Show, the Tucson Show, or simply The Show, the Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase has all the elements of commerce, earth sciences, paleontology, archaeology, technology, art, curating, culture, and crafts. Many of the world’s top private collections and public museums have exhibited here. The fellowship, networking and learning experiences generate so much social and cultural energy amidst the high desert scenery of Tucson. To Bob Jones who has attended it more than 40 times and who wrote about its 50 year history in 2004, “It is the “single most important gem and mineral event in the world” (Jones 2004:1).

The Tucson Show is simultaneously a show, museum tour, exhibition, market, bazaar, swap meet, convention, conference, workshop, party, fiesta, pow-wow, food-fest, and tourist destination that brings together over 50,000 unique visitors, collectors, curators, dealers, buyers, scholars, enthusiasts, tourists, students, artists, even hippies to this three-week event. In 1969, curator Paul Desautels of Smithsonian Institution and one of the most active supporters of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show called it "The New York Stock Exchange of the (mineral) world". He also added that "The price of mineral specimens for the world is more or less set at this show” (Jones 2004).

f you want to see the latest mineral find, some of the most exquisite gems, or newly unearth mammoths, the Tucson Show is where you should be. Do fossilized dinosaur molars or coprolite (dung) pique your interest? How about petrified wood? Have you seen a meteorite weighing more than 600 kgs.?

IHow much exotic seashells and corals are from the Philippines? Do you want to know and see what ammonites, crinoids, or trilobites are? There is no other showcase like the Tucson Show and it is something an enthusiast should experience even once.

The recent 2007 Tucson Show had 5,079 exhibitors in 49 individual shows, the most ever not counting the unofficial ones. These shows were scattered all over the city in banquet halls, foyers, and bedrooms/ suites of hotels, convention centers, parking lots, warehouses, or any available space, security permitting. Most shows are open to the public. An economic impact survey-assessment of the Tucson Show by FMR Associates (2007) estimated total gate attendance at 362,816 buyers, each of whom attended an average 6.6 shows. They estimated unique persons attendance at 55,056, the highest ever and 59% more than the 2000 estimated figure of 34,618 persons. Exhibitors came from 42 states of the United States and 38 countries, while buyers came from 43 different states and 24 different countries. If you want to see globalization localized, the Tucson Show will make for a good study.

See for complete listing of shows and for more information

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