San Juan College's geology museum nears completion

Joshua Kellogg
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — San Juan College employees are finishing work on a geology display in the new School of Energy building in anticipation of the school's grand opening next week.

Staff from the Sherman Dugan Museum of Geology have set up displays of minerals and fossils, donated from the Dugan collection, in the northeast corner of the new school building.

The Dugan family donated and loaned portions of its collection to the college after Sherman Dugan's death in December 2013.

"I think it's a real privilege to have my father's legacy on display and shared with the community," said Sean Dugan, the son of Sherman Dugan.

On Aug. 31, Sean Dugan and his grandfather, Tom Dugan, visited the museum as geology professors and students were setting up an augmented-reality sandbox in the middle of several display cases.

The display cases hold minerals and fossils from both New Mexico and abroad, including Mexico, Canada and Africa.

Donna Ware, one of the museum's curators, was helping install an interactive augmented-reality sandbox, which uses a 3-D camera and projector to display a topographic map on the sand. As visitors shift the sand, the 3-D camera reads the depth of the sand and projects a new topographic map.

Ware said the sandbox teaches people how to read a topographic map, but with a fun twist.

"Everybody loves to play with sand, and to actually learn something as you are playing with it is priceless to me," Ware said.

Other highlights of the museum include an exhibit named "Bob," which consists of the skull and jawbones of a 35-million-year-old brontothere, an ancient relative of the rhinoceros, said geology professor John Burris.

The skeleton of a pterosaur hangs from the ceiling over the exhibit. Burris said the pterosaur was one of the first flying reptiles that flapped its skin as a wing to fly.

Another display case at the museum will be lit by fluorescent lights, allowing the minerals inside to glow in the dark.

The college will host a grand opening for the new School of Energy at 4 p.m. Sept. 15. It will be open to the public, and refreshments will be served.


What: Grand opening for San Juan College School of Energy

When: 4 p.m. Sept. 15

Where: San Juan College's main campus, 5301 College Blvd., Farmington

More info: Open to the public. Appetizers and refreshments will be served.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.