Set amongst the beautiful grounds of Clemson University's lush Botanical Gardens is the Bob Campbell Geology Museum, a fascinating collection of more than 10,000 specimens ranging from rocks and fossils to minerals and gemstones.
A room full of 10,000 rocks might not sound like the makings of a fascinating afternoon outing, but the informative displays and the sheer beauty of many of the specimens fulfills the museum's mission of using these samples to awaken a curiosity about the natural world.
There is something to interest everyone at this wonderful small museum. When I was there, a little boy stood in awe in front of the smilodon - a saber-tooth tiger skeleton - affectionately referred to as Clemson's first tiger. Nearby, I had some fun holding my comparatively meager engagement ring up to some of the extraordinary and gorgeous gems in the display case.
The highlight of the museum, however, is definitely the Florescent Room. At the back of the museum, you enter a small room with several seemingly nondescript rocks behind glass. As you shut the door behind you and press the button to your left, the lights dim. A recorded voice explains the florescent nature of some rocks when they are hit with certain forms of light. Suddenly those nondescript rocks are all glowing various shades of green, orange and white. It's stunning.
The Bob Campbell Geology Museum is open every day of the week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information visit www.clemson.edu/public/geomuseum.