The Meteorite Exchange, Inc.

Nininger Moment #7 The Nininger Museum Part 2

After the arrival of the Nininger’s and their collection, came the task of setting up display cases for their museum, fixing up the rented building for the public, general cleaning up and painting to give a more professional look to the museum. The museum was without electrical power and was open as long as there was enough sun-light to illuminate the displays. Often its opening was when visitors came and were wanting to see the great collection under glass or was closed early on days of a lack of visitors. They cooked on a gas butane stove and used gas lanterns to see during the evenings. The inside walls were painted white to provide as much light as long as the days would permit. The main floor space was twenty by forty feet.

The tower was used for storage space and their bedroom was sixteen by eighteen feet with bookcases place to separate the kitchen. A small window opened west at the foot of the bed. Public rest rooms had been installed in former storage space and opened out into the exterior of the building.

About half of the tourist that would turn into the museum would read the admission sign of .25 cents for adults and .15 cents for children, would turn and leave without checking the magnificent display. The first day they had a total of sixty customers who toured their display and seemed well pleased. Admissions steadily increased the first year with as many as a hundred on occasion. The Nininger’s sold literature and specimens to help supplement their income to customers and by mail order. Many of the visiting public included strange stories of meteorites that Nininger would recognize as a mistake. A sense of humor was required to deal with these stories and correct the error in such a way that the customer was not offended. Inside of the museum a customer could heft in their hands a meteorite from outer space. The center of the museum was some large Canyon Diablos from meteor crater the center piece for the museum. Often school groups would come out on tours as well as visiting former college students that Harvey had taught. In all some 33,000 paid admissions were recorded on the books the first twelve months with visitors from every state, forty three foreign countries, fifteen colleges and high schools, a few groups of scientists as well as other miscellaneous groups.

In all the museum operated on route 66 for three years before the interstate drastically cut the museums business down to half which made it less feasible to maintain and support the Nininger’s. At its peak the museum housed some 5,000 meteorites from 526 different finds or falls. It had displays on various stages of weathering of meteorites as well as shapes and sizes. A greater variety of specimens were present than at any other institution larger or small. The museum had been made not only to support the Nininger’s but to provided a much needed education on meteorites that was not present in even the better colleges and higher education facilities of the day.

Source: Find A Falling Star By H.H. Nininger

The Nininger Moments are articles or books written originally by Harvey Nininger and put into a consolidated form by Al Mitterling. Some of the items written in the moments might be old out dated material and the reader is advised to keep this in mind.

Note: (off topic) On the way back from Tucson Show and while listening to talk radio from a local Texas station, I heard of a similar problem that a young mom had had with a moving firm found on the internet. They wouldn’t move her entire contents as quoted so she left half of them out east (many items that she needed) and were still trying to charge her 9 times the price originally quoted for what was shipped. Seems that at least some things don’t change over time and this reminded me of the Nininger’s move. No doubt there are more reputable movers out there than this one.

–AL Mitterling

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