On September 5th, I went to the Oakton Community Library for a presentation called “Mystery of the Hope Diamond.” The talk was in honor of the 75th anniversary of the FairFax County Public Library system. My aunt and I had seen the Hope Diamond several times at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History several times, and we have always thought it was gorgeous. I didn’t think very many people would show up on a Friday night, but happily the program was full.
I got there at 5:30 p.m. for a 7:30 presentation. (That’s MetroAccess Standard Time for the uninitiated. But that was okay, because I found something to read and admired the library branch. I had never been there before.) I browsed–always my downfall– and checked out a book on Tuscany before the library closed. The staff and volunteers were very welcoming. The reception beforehand was enjoyable.
Dr. Jeffrey Post, curator of the museum’s mineral collection, gave a talk on the gem’s history. Here’s a bit of it online. I was pleased to discover several good titles on rocks, minerals, and the legends surrounding the diamond for later exploration. Most people in the audience had seen the Hope Diamond before, but they asked a lot of questions. The diamond has been exhibited n at least two settings. New research and collaboration between museums was really cool, and an angle I never considered much. He also mentioned some interesting things about the cut of the diamond.
Dr. Post began his talk with a brief slide show. He described the morning routine before the museum opened: “This is how the museum looks just before 10:00 a.m., as we get everything ready and the Hope Diamond is brought out of the vault.” The slide showed an empty museum gallery that was presumably very quiet.
The audience waited for the next picture. “And this is what the museum looks like at 10:01 a.m.,” Post deadpanned. The picture showed a large crowd of people around the Hope Diamond and other gems in cases. Everyone laughed. I guess we all remember jostling through crowds to get a better look.
A September 7th Washington Post article showed that the National Museum of Natural History is the most popular Smithsonian museum. I would like to go there again in a whole to see new exhibits they have.