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January 2022

When I began work on this web page update, I was surprised to find out that I have not done an update since last summer. I guess this task just did not get close to the top of my priority list. During the first half of 2021, my time was completely dominated by finishing my latest book, Rocks Inside Out. As a result, I went into this past summer season with zero pieces of mineral art. Just before opening the Gitche Gumee on the first Thursday of June, I marathoned making enough agate windows and lamps to start the season. Then I had to spend all summer making art, especially since I sold more mineral art in 2021 than any other of the previous 22 seasons!  My available time was also limited by responsibilities regarding the second annual Grand Marais Rock and Mineral Show, which took place in September (more information about the rock show is included below). 

Then in the fall after the rock show, I took advantage of warm temperatures and started transitioning between the Gitche Gumee Museum and the future Agatelady Rock Shop. Although the new rock shop will not open until June 1, 2023 – there is much to do. Currently, there are two buildings on the museum’s property and two buildings at my residence. The 20’ x 24’ outbuilding next to my house will be the location of the new rock shop. It was full of stuff that had to be emptied in preparation for remodeling, which takes place in the spring. My contractor will construct two small additions (storage area and vaulted toilet), replace and/or rebuild new access doors, insulate the building, and construct interior walls and a ceiling. Prior to emptying out the future rock shop building, I had to clean out my garage and woodshed as well as two rooms in my house to make room for items removed from the outbuilding that I wanted to keep. In total I either relocated, recycled, or brought to the landfill almost 4,000 pounds of stuff! 

One small room in my house that I recently cleaned out will contain my rock collection that will be transferred from the museum next September after the rock show. Other items were transferred from my residence to the building behind the museum. In June I will be having a yard sale to raise money to help cover some of the rock shop’s remodeling costs. Next October I will first have a private party to celebrate (and mourn) the end of the Gitche Gumee Museum. At this invitation-only event, historical artifacts I am not keeping will be available for sale to those invited to the party. All prices will be firm. After the private party, hours will be posted for members of the public to enter the Gitche Gumee and have the chance to purchase items (again, all prices will be firm). Because of these transition activities, I will not be able to accommodate any private appointments after September 11, 2022. Also, due to my rock show responsibilities, the number of private appointments in the first part of September will be severely limited. Most likely I will only accommodate appointments for groups willing to spend a minimum of $100 per group. Although nothing has been signed or finalized, I have a verbal agreement to sell the museum property.

I realize there will be people who visit Grand Marais next fall not knowing about this transition schedule. The same was true this past summer when people wanted access to the museum, not knowing that in 2021 the hours were changed to my new “semi-retirement” schedule. These new hours will continue in 2022 and for a couple of years thereafter:  June, July, August; Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays; 2:00 to 5:00 pm.  Although many people who got used to the museum being open seven days a week for more than two decades were upset with the new more limited hours, others respected my semi-retirement and made private appointments. In total from mid-May through October, over 100 groups successfully scheduled private appointments this past season. Private appointments can be scheduled in the future under the following conditions: 

  • Private appointments will not be available from mid-November through April.
  • Days available in May 2022 will be limited due to previously scheduled commitments. 
  • Tuesdays and Wednesdays are not available.
  • Appointment requests made in advance have an increased likelihood of success (see last bullet below for more information). Given the rock shop transition and rock show responsibilities, I will not often be able to accommodate impromptu, last-minute appointments. If you would like to make a private appointment, please plan ahead.
  • Beginning this year, there will be two types of private appointments: (1) exclusive and (2) shared. Those requesting an exclusive appointment will have private time wherein no one other than the people in that group will be able to enter the gift shop or the museum. The minimum purchase requirement for exclusive groups (group = one to six related/associated people) is $100 per group (not per individual). Shared appointments are those wherein the group is willing to allow others to enter the Gitche Gumee during their appointment time. Shared appointment groups have a minimum purchase requirement of $25 per group (one to six related/associated people). Other groups who enter the museum and “share” the appointment time will also have the $25 minimum purchase requirement. For groups larger than six people, please request a quote for the required minimum purchase amount. FYI, once the new rock shop opens in 2023, I will maintain the “semi-retirement” hours and private appointment policies for a few years before transitioning to all private appointments.
  • Groups that set up a shared appointment that only spend the minimum $25 will be allotted 30 minutes of time and will be entertained by being allowed to see a few of my favorite specimens. 
  • All exclusive groups and the shared groups that spend at least $50 get to see my box of “wowser” specimens.
  • As of this writing I hope we will not have to deal with pandemic mitigation policies this summer. However, it is at the discretion of the Gitche Gumee curator as to what policies will be enforced for those who enter the museum building. All individuals in private appointment groups (as well as those who enter during regular hours) must comply with the museum’s policies or they will be refused entry. There will be no exceptions.
  • Private appointments can be set up in advance by emailing Karen Brzys at: karen@agatelady.com (or kbrzys@jamadots.com). You can also call for an appointment at 906-494-2590. At this time I am directing people to request a private appointment by either sending an email or by calling this landline number. Please do not use Facebook, my cell phone (call or text), or any of the messaging apps to request a private appointment.

Some work has already been completed on the new rock shop. Last spring, I had all new windows installed. I also applied for and was granted a conditional use permit from Burt Township. This past fall, I had my driveway improved and a new parking lot installed. The grassy area in front of the future rock shop can get quite muddy, so a parking lot is needed. Pictures of the parking area installation are below.

As for the new book, which arrived from the printer in late July, I am very excited to report that it has been well received. After 23 years of operating the Gitche Gumee, it is clear people want a book that can be easily used to identify their rock treasures. Rather than try to include ALL rocks, the new book features 42 rock varieties, including some associated minerals. Almost 750 images help readers identify their finds. In addition, the 250 pages are color-coded: white background – general information; pink background – geologic background; blue background – specimen identification tips; green background – additional photos of the specimens. The chapters are Source of Minerals, Intrusive Igneous Rocks; Extrusive Igneous Rocks; Sedimentary Rocks; and Metamorphic Rocks. An appendix is also included with additional information. The Source of Minerals chapter tells the story about how the number of minerals on Earth increased from the original 60 to the current number of over 5,000. The book is available from this web page (click on the Gift Shop link above and scroll down), and in Grand Marais, MI at the Stella/Bean Machine gift shop next to the museum (open mid-May through mid-October), the West Bay dinner (or whatever the new name will be under new owners/managers), and the Grand Marais outfitters.  At this point, my books are no longer being sold on Amazon (as a protest to their high fees and other policies).

The second (almost) annual Grand Marais Rock and Mineral show took place last September, the weekend after Labor Day. As many of you know, the show was canceled in 2020 due to the Covid 19 pandemic. The weather threatened on Saturday morning, but the rain held off. Over 1,300 attendees visited the show and enjoyed interacting with and buying geologic treasures from nearly 30 dealers. Show attendees traveled from 22 states and over half the counties in Michigan. Show support came from 13 financial sponsors, 29 regional businesses that donated raffle prizes, and all the dealers who also donated items for the raffle. The Grand Marais Women’s Club sponsored the keynote speaker dinner again this year on Saturday night, raising money for their very worthwhile community benefit projects. The Lutheran Church (located across the street from Woodland Park Campground) held a fundraising breakfast on Saturday morning. Many other local businesses benefited financially from the influx of people into town. We made several improvements for the 2021 show and have already planned other exciting changes for the 2022 show. This winter we will apply to the IRS to request non-profit status. Our plan is to use excess revenue earned at the rock show to fund community benefit projects. The first project will be to purchase and install a wheelchair-compatible walkway running from the boardwalk at Agate Beach in Grand Marais, to the shoreline. The type of walkway we hope to install is shown below. Thanks to all the sponsors, raffle donators, dealers, visitors, advisory committee, and volunteers who helped to make this show a success!  

The Grand Marais Rock and Mineral Show will take place this year, as usual, the weekend after Labor Day on September 11-12, 2022. If you have any questions about the show, or if you are interested in renting space to be a rock and mineral dealer, please send an email to GrandMaraisRockShow@gmail.com. Other information is available on the show’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=grand%20marais%20rock%20and%20mineral%20show and on the show’s webpage https://grandmaraisrockandmineralshow.com/ .

A few photos from the 2021 show are shown below (Thanks to Diana Mavis for being the photographer).

Happy rockhounding!
Karen Brzys

Gitche Gumee Museum (NOTE: 2022 will be the last year of operation. A new rock shop opens in 2023)

Location:
E21739 Brazel Street, PO Box 308
Grand Marais, MI 49839

Emails:
kbrzys@Jamadots.com or Karen@agatelady.com 
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 

Phone:
906-494-2590 Home and art studio number (The main number: please call first)
906-494-3000 Museum (I do not maintain this phone during the winter months)
906-450-5033 (Cell phone)


Gitche Gumee Museum Hours

To allow the museum owner to have more time to write, self-publish, and market her books as well as to develop the new Agatelady Rock Shop (which will open June 1, 2023) and to manage the Grand Marais Rock and Mineral Show, the number of hours the museum will be open is being reduced.

Private Appointments: If you would like to set up a private appointment for other days and times, please email me at Karen@agatelady.com, or call 906-494-2590. More information about private appointments is included in the above paragraphs.

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: If you would like to set up a private appointment for other days and times, please email me at Karen@agatelady.com, 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 appointments 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 per group of five people or less. For larger groups, please request a quote for the minimum purchase requirement amount.


Art and Mineral Show and Agate Talk Schedule

I have decided to retire from exhibiting at rock and mineral shows. However, I will be speaking at the Ishpeming Rock Club meeting on March 20, 2022, at 1:30 pm. Regular meetings of the club are held at the Cliffs Shaft Mining Museum, 501 W. Euclid St. Ishpeming, Michigan. Doors open at 1:00 pm to allow visitors time to view the club’s mineral collection. Free admission. The public is welcome.


July 2021 Update

The Mineral of the Month

The element, Silicon

History’s Gem of the Month

Shipwrecks from Nov 19, 1914

Gitchee Gumee Gatherings

Information about
scheduling private, in-home private art shows

Rock Hounding and Adventure Trips

South Dakota Rockhounding Trip, October 2020

Correspondence

New testimonial from Rockhounding/Agate Class participants