Geosciences Museum

Explore the variety of geological exhibits on campus at the Richard L. Sutton Jr. Geosciences Museum, currently located in Room 329 of Miller Nichols Library.

The Richard L. Sutton Jr. Geosciences Museum opened in 1973, when Dr. Richard L. Sutton, a dermatologist, and UMKC Professor Eldon J. Parizek assembled much of the collection and display units. Sutton was an adjunct geology instructor who donated his personal collection of cephalopods (squid-like ocean dwellers) and fluid inclusions (rocks containing liquids) to the museum. (A popular exhibit allows viewers to tip a specimen of clear quartz to watch the trapped primordial water move inside it.)

The museum’s crinoid collection is a particular point of pride. Crinoids, informally called “starfish on a stick,” were once abundant in what is now downtown Kansas City, Missouri, when the area was ringed by a shallow sea. In 1889, excavators discovered at least 400 crinoid specimens at the intersection of 10th Street and Grand Avenue. Exactly 100 years later, at the urging of Missouri schoolchildren, then-Governor John Ashcroft made the crinoid the official fossil of Missouri.

A large geode in the Geosciences MuseumAnother of the museum's curiosities is an enormous fulgurite, or lightning rock, which was formed when lightning, which generates heat up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, struck the earth in Clay County, Missouri, and fused the silicon dioxide in its path into tube-shaped glass.

The museum's collections are curated by James Murowchick and Richard Gentile, professors emeritus. Much of the museum’s fossil collection was amassed by the latter on trips to the Badlands in South Dakota. Through UMKC’s Continuing Education program, he continues to travel with student groups each summer, conducting research and searching for vertebrate fossils. In his retirement, he also continues to give tours of the museum to visitors and school groups.

The museum is located on the Volker Campus in the Miller Nichols Library, Room 329, and is open:

Monday - Friday
8:00 am to 4:30 pm

Group tours can be arranged by appointment.

Volker Campus Map (PDF)

 


Miller Nichols Library, Room 329
800 E. 51st St.
Kansas City, MO 64110


816-235-1334