Artifact Identification Day coming to Memorial Museum on Sunday

Lawrence Goodwyn

When it comes to identifying mysterious minerals, enthusiasts can sometimes find themselves between a rock and a hard place.

The UT Memorial Museum is here to help. The museum will be hosting its annual “Identification Day” this Sunday from 1-5 p.m. Attendees will be able to bring in unidentified rocks, fossils, gems or other natural objects and have them identified by experts. They will also receive free admission to the museum and its exhibits. 

Roughly 300-500 people attend the event every year from different parts of Central Texas, according to Edward Theriot, the director of the Texas Memorial Museum. 

“The opportunity for the public to interact with very knowledgeable scientists about fossils, flowers, gems and minerals is what really brings people together and makes the event a success,” Theriot said. 

In the past, attendees have brought in mammoth teeth, invertebrate fossils from the cretaceous period, part of a bear tooth eroded in a river bank, and a tapir jaw, to name a few, said Pamela Owen, associate director of the Texas Memorial Museum. 

“It’s great for the community to have a chance to speak in person about biology, geology and paleontology, and focus one-on-one in person about their find,” said Owen. 

Owen said the event is an opportunity for people to finally quench their curiosity about that random artifact that’s been sitting in their grandmother’s attic for decades.

“It’s much more personal than sending a photo of the fossil through email,” Owen said. 

Theriot said it is worthwhile to note that the museum does not offer appraisals on items, because their main focus is the science behind identifying the artifacts. 

In the past, attendees have even been able to bring pictures of snakes, lizards and various amphibians to be identified by an on-scene herpetologist. Although this year’s event will not feature a herpetologist, attendees will still be able to meet one-on-one with paleontologists, geologists, botanists and other specialists.

Despite experiencing a budget cut two years ago, Owen said the event will still be a diamond in the rough. 

 “It’s exciting for us to really bring this event back big-time,” Owen said.