Ancient meteorite will be on display at Weisman museum

For the next month, visitors to the Weisman Art Museum will be able to see up close a rock that’s out of this world.
Nobody is sure how old the 123-pound meteorite is. But scientists estimate the orb, which went on display Wednesday, has definitely been around for billions of years. Harder than any human-made steel, the rock was found by Al Stegora in Champlin, Minn., 13 years ago.
Although a sample was sent to University physics and astronomy professor Robert Pepin in 1997, the entire rock was recently sold for $38,000 to a consortium that includes the University and five other universities and museums.
Stegora agreed to sell the rock on the condition that a piece of it stayed in Minnesota. Each institution will get their slice of the rock after one month of display at the museum.
“This is the one month that it is to remain in its entirety,” said Lance Potter, public relations director for the Weisman.
The chemical properties of a section of Minnesota’s piece will be studied by University researchers to give a picture of what the early solar system’s composition was like. The rest of the slice will reside in the main hall of Pillsbury Hall.
Calvin Alexander, geology professor, said the space object will be a great addition to the department.
“(The University) has a fairly substantial collection of meteorites that has been started,” said Alexander. “The bulk of the collection is on loan to the Smithsonian.”
Pepin, who received the meteorite from Stegora on Monday, asked the museum personally for its display.
“He wanted a very public place to display it for a month,” Potter said.

— Emily Babcock