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A Meteorite Field Trip To the Field Museum

It has been many years since I last visited the Windy City so I jumped at the chance this spring when a conference presented just such an opportunity. While Chicago is not much more windy that New York City, and even less windy than Boston, it certainly didn’t disappoint, especially along the long waterfront walk from downtown to the Field Museum.

Meteorites with Field Museum documentation are highly coveted by collectors including myself. One  favorite Field Museum piece in my collection is Fukutomi, Japan. Another is Paragould, Arkansas.

The Field Museum began life back in 1893 with a generous one million dollar donation by Marshall Field, a local prominent businessman. In that time, and many greats in the field of meteoritics passed through the Field Museum doors, most notably Oliver C. Farrington.

The following photographs depict the large displays of meteorite, but fall short in sharing the real magic of the gallery. Enjoy the images, but don’t let them substitute for a in-person visit to the museum.

Stannern achondrite

The Stannern Eucrite. Beautiful flowing crust makes this stone an exceptional of a basaltic achondrite. However, unlike the complete stone my personal specimen, this one has a large cut face.

Lafayette SNC

The Lafayette, Indiana Nakhlite. Found in 1931, this martian rock contains minerals formed, according to it’s sign, “from exposure to liquid water near the surface of Mars.”


The cut face of Stannern does highlight the contrasting interior common to calcium-rich achondrites, but also is one less complete stone of Stannern on this planet.


This half-individual of the enstatite chondrite named Indarch fell in 1891, just two years before the museum it now calls home was founded.

A classic and large individual of Murchison, the CM2 that stunk up the down it landed in

Canyon Diablo

A large Canyon Diablo iron for public inspection.

It’s always disappointing when something is missing from the display. However, meteorites have a tough time here on earth and even the best curated pieces require a little personal attentional once in a while.

Sue at the Field Museum

It wouldn’t be a visit to the Field Museum without stopping by for a talk with Sue, their resident Tyrannosaurus rex. I remember the story of Sue’s out-of-ground troubles well having visited the Black Hills Institute during the dispute. And then again teaching about Sue through a well-funded promotional campaign sponsored by McDonalds.

Until next time….

About the Author

Dr. Martin Horejsi is a Professor of Instructional Technology and Science Education at The University of Montana. A long-time meteorite collector and writer, before publishing his column The Accretion Desk in The Meteorite Times, he contributed often and wrote the column From The Strewnfields in Meteorite Magazine. Horejsi is currently a monthly columnist in The Science Teacher, a journal by the National Science Teachers Association.Horejsi specializes in the collection and study of historic witnessed fall meteorites with the older, smaller, and rarer the better. Although his meteorite collection once numbered over a thousand pieces with near that many different locations, several large trades and sales have streamlined the collection to about 250 locations with all but 10 being important witnessed falls.Many of the significant specimens in Horejsi's collection are historic witnessed falls that once occupied prominence in the meteorite collections of Robert A. Haag, James Schwade, and Michael Farmer. Other important specimens were acquired through institutional trades including those from The Smithsonian Institution, Arizona State University, and other universities.