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November 2020

This year has been one heck of a year.  After 22 years of operating the Gitche Gumee Museum, I have never had a summer like this.  Usually, people who come into the museum are happy to be there, excited to see the mineral varieties and other items, and are a pleasure to come through the door.  Most visitors continued this pattern, but many did not.  Of course, the issues came down to my requirements for visitors to hand sanitize upon entry and for everyone to wear a mask.  I must admit my sense of fairness was violated.  I have been a dedicated servant to the public in operating the museum for more than two decades.  I did not deserve to have my life threatened, nor did I deserve to be yelled at and otherwise accosted.  This does not make sense to me since I was just trying to follow CDC guidelines and Michigan requirements, as well as to keep my customers and myself safe.  I must admit the confrontations completely wore me out.  I apologize to any museum visitors this summer for the moments I was more brittle and less accommodating.  I did the best I could, but I was simply at the end of my rope.

As a result of this summer, and mostly because I am trying to prepare for the future now that I am in my mid-60s, I am beginning the process to make major changes.  I am going to change my priorities to pay more attention to my own needs and happiness.  Beginning in 2021 the museum’s operational hours will decrease so I can have more time to write books.  Writing books is my favorite thing to do, and probably the thing I am best at.  In many ways, I would like to permanently close the Gitche Gumee Museum and write full time.  When I floated this idea to visitors, many got terribly upset.  So as a compromise, the hours will be reduced, and the museum will be open in its current location for one more year.  The hours will be June, July, and August – Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays – 2:00 to 5:00 pm.  Yes, only nine hours a week.  I know people are used to the GGM being open seven days a week, but a change is needed.

The Gitche Gumee Museum will close on August 31, 2021, but the Agatelady Rock Shop will open on June 1, 2022.  The new rock shop will be in an outbuilding next to my house, which is located two miles from the current museum location (over near Sable Lake).  The good news is the rock shop space will be bigger.  The bad news is there will no longer be a museum, other than maybe some of the rock displays along one wall.  The hours for the new rock shop will be the same nine hours a week.

Thus, I will be selling the current museum building as well as most of the antiques and artifacts.  I have not yet had the building appraised, but I do plan on selling it as a commercial property, rather than as a residence.  The price will take into consideration the fact I have had a successful business at this location for a long time.  Whoever buys the building and starts a retail business will benefit from having up to 8,000 people a summer stop by.

A few individuals have already expressed interest in purchasing the GGM building, but it is a moot point until I actually put it up for sale.  However, I would like to hear from anyone who may be interested, especially if you want to go to the front of the line by agreeing to buy the building between now and spring, but would be willing to delay occupancy until November 1, 2021.  If you are interested, please send me an email at


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The first step to begin the process of this transition is to apply for a conditional land use permit since my property is zoned residential.  There should not be a problem in that there have been other gift shops located on my street and in the area that were granted conditional land use permits.   The big challenge will be to find a contractor to transform my outbuilding into what is required for it to house a rock shop.  It is not a huge job, but the skills required for the renovation are beyond my own.  The building is already in existence, but there need to be several changes.  I am also going to re-gravel my driveway, install a security gate partway up the driveway, and install a security system.  Sometime after September 1, 2021, I will move the entire rock and mineral collection as well as the gift shop inventory up to the new rock shop location.   

The zoom classes I started when Covid hit, did not work out as well as I had hoped.  The people who paid for the class seemed to love it, but there were not a lot of takers.  Soon I will be turning off the internet at the museum for the winter and I will not turn it back on until spring.  The internet speed at my house is too slow to guarantee a good connection to Zoom. There is nothing I can do about it until the telephone company installs a new fiber optic cable down my road, which will not happen for a couple of more years.   It is possible I could still conduct an agate hunting Zoom class, but I will have to borrow space at one of my friend’s houses. The Zoom class I have been running lasts an hour to an hour and a half.  The price varies depending upon how many participants sign up for the Zoom class.  If you are interested, please email me at
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I have decided not to go to Florida this winter due to Covid as well as to the fact I am on hold to help be a teacher for my grandson.  His school resumed classroom instruction last week, but that could change.  I will desperately miss golf!  Since I will be home, I will be available to make custom agate windows and agate lamps.  If you are interested in placing an order, please email me at
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Happy rockhounding!
Karen Brzys

Gitche Gumee Museum
E21739 Brazel Street, PO Box 308
Grand Marais, MI 49839

  • EMAILS:
    or
  • BLOG:
    www.agatelady.blogspot.com
  • PERSONAL FACEBOOK PAGE:
    https://www.facebook.com/karen.brzys
  • MUSEUM FACEBOOK PAGE:
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gitche-Gumee-Agate-and-History-Museum
  • Home and Art Studio Number
    906-494-2590
  • Museum (do not maintain this phone during the winter months)
    906-494-3000
  • (Cell phone — not always turned on. I use it only when I travel.)
    906-450-5033

Gitche Gumee Museum Hours

To allow the museum owner to have more time to write books, beginning in 2021 and continuing in future years the number of hours the museum will be open is being reduced.

June

  • Thursday 2-5 pm
  • Friday 2-5 pm
  • Saturday 2-5 pm
July

  • Thursday 2-5 pm
  • Friday 2-5 pm
  • Saturday 2-5 pm
August

  • Thursday 2-5 pm
  • Friday 2-5 pm
  • Saturday 2-5 pm

Private Appointments: I will plan on having the museum ready for appointments by May, so if you would like to set up a private appointment please email me at 
, or call 906-494-2590. It is best to set up appointments in advance in case I am busy or out of town. Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the day are not available.  I try to accommodate impromptu appointments, but this is not always possible. For private appointments, I require a donation or purchase of at least $25 to “bribe” me to get out of my writer’s lair.


Art and Mineral Show and Agate Talk Schedule

The show and speaking schedule for 2021 is not yet finalized.  I must decide if I am going to quit exhibiting at rock shows.  We also have to wait and see what happens with Covid in 2021.  If I do decide to continue doing shows, I may get a booth at the Cuyuna show held in Brainerd, MN the second weekend of May.  A decision will be made this spring whether to hold the second annual Grand Marais Rock-On show the weekend after Labor Day (September 11-12, 2021). Since the Gitche Gumee Museum will be closed by then, if we do have Rock-On, I will have a booth just inside the show’s entrance.  Finally, I will have to decide if I want to have a booth at the Mason, MI show held at the Ingham county fairgrounds (October 15,16, 17).


November 2020 Update

The Mineral of the Month

Royal Purple Aztec Agate
(Durango, Mexico)

Gitchee Agomowin
(Grand Marais
history article)

Online Gift Shop

New Zoom Video Class and Virtual Shopping

Gitche Gumee Gatherings
Information about
scheduling private, in-home private art shows
Rockhounding and Adventure Trip

South Dakota rock hunting trip, October 2020

Correspondence
New testimonial from Rockhounding/Agate Class participants