Lester & Sue Smith Gem Vault

Permanent Collection

The Lester and Sue Smith Gem Vault completes the story begun by the world-renowned Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals.

The Museum acquired mineral “cutting rough” of precious gemstones freshly extracted from mines around the world for the showcase pieces on display. This ensured the very best natural stones were cut to our curators’ into faceted gems of exact specifications, then crafted into original works under the skilled hands of jewelry designers, including Ernesto Moreira.

The Lester and Sue Smith Gem Vault is made possible through the generous support of The Smith Foundation.


Curator: Joel A. Bartsch

Native Texan and longtime Houstonian, Joel Bartsch was first hired as a security guard at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in 1984, and was appointed president and CEO in 2004. Since Bartsch’s appointment as president, the museum has doubled its membership and annual attendance. To accommodate this demand, Bartsch….

Related Events and Post
    Loading, Please Wait...
    Loading, Please Wait...
    Loading, Please Wait...

Please help us to preserve our collections for the next generation by not using flash when taking personal pictures at HMNS and at HMNS Sugar Land. Exposure to strong lights over time causes fading and deterioration of most artifacts and specimens.

Flash photography is ONLY allowed in the Grand Hall and the rainforest of the Cockrell Butterfly Center.

Selfie sticks are not allowed anywhere in HMNS, HMNS Sugar Land and the George Observatory.

For press and any commercial photo shoots, please contact the Public Relations dept.


Stay in the know.
Join our mailing list.

$50 could be just a few clicks away

Complete a short five-minute survey about your website experience on HMNS.org.

Sure, I'll give feedback