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One of the most interesting departments of the college and one which is at present becoming especially prominent on account of a radical change which is being made in its whole basis, is the Mineralogical Department. Most of the students of chemistry who go to Boylston Hall so often have probably noticed two cases of minerals which stand at the head of the stairs on the second floor, but comparatively few seem to be aware that in the room on the left of the stairs is one of the finest collection of meteorites in the world. This collection which, on the basis of the present value of the substances contained in it, is worth, approximately, a million and half dollars, is the result of nearly fifty years of labor by Professor Cook. The mucleus of the collection came from Professor J. Lawrence Smith of Louisville, Ky., who sold it to Professor Cook at a reduced rate.
The first specimens occupied two cases in the room directly in front of the stairs. Wall cases were soon added in this room, and so the process has gone on till the collection has reached its present magnitude. Under the first room is a laboratory, where fire is liable to originate at any time. Consequently it has long been the desire of Professor Cook and Dr. Huntington to have some fire proof building in which to place these valuable specimens. The outcome of their desire is the south wing of the new museum. The collection will be taken there from Boylston Hall as soon as possible.
In the basement of the new building are rooms for analysis and assaying, and also a fire proof room which is to be provided with smelting furnaces. Over these on the first floor are the general laboratories, the library, the assistant's room and the lecture room. The general laboratories contain tables covered with tiles, which will provide working places for eighty students. Each student is given an iron box in which to keep his instruments. These boxes are arranged in tiers along the wall. On the second floor are special laboratories for advanced classes. On the third floor the entire space is occupied by one large room, which is to contain the meteorites and other specimens. The room will be fitted up later with plate glass show cases
The arrangement will be after the plan of the British Museum. The fourth floor serves as a broad gallery running about the large specimen room, the centre being left open to better the conditions for light. The gallery will also contain show cases. The funds for this spacious exhibition room were raised by Professor Cook and Dr. Huntlngton. When all the plans have been carried out and the building stands completed, it will be one of the finest museums in the world. Boylston Hall will then be given up entirely to the Department of Chemistry.
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