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Taking a look at gems and minerals

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The Dakota Dinosaur Museum is beginning its 20th year of operation by focusing on its collection of rare minerals and rocks from around the world.

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"You may be surprised to learn that in addition to a large collection of dinosaurs and mammals, the museum has an excellent variety of rare minerals and rocks in one of the finest displays that can be seen anywhere," museum director Alice League said.

The museum opened Wednesday for the summer season.

"Visitors who think we only display dinosaurs are elated after viewing the well-lighted mineral exhibit with easy to read informative labels," museum curator Larry League said. "World travelers often tell us this is one of the best mineral displays anywhere in the world."

Minerals are from exotic parts of the world including Russia, Australia, India, China, Tasmania, Mozambique, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka and Madagascar.

"Most of the states in the United States are represented with at least one mineral," League said. "A large country like the United States produces an abundance of rare minerals. Come join us for an exciting adventure you will remember for a lifetime."

After a tour of the exhibits, visitors are invited to stop at the Dino Shop. The Leagues have just returned from Tucson, Ariz. -- the largest gem and mineral show in the world.

"Our gift shop, providing a major portion of our operating expenses each year, has a lot of new and exciting items that will make wonderful gifts for your family and friends," Alice League said.

Nepal native Geeta Dhakal, and her friend, Monica Peterson of Dickinson, were among the first to visit the museum on Wednesday.

"I was waiting for it to open," Dhakal said. "I'm a detail person, and so it might take me a while to look."

Alice League said the museum is an economic development project for the community, bringing over 400,000 visitors to the museum since opening day, May 13, 1994. It is independently operated from admission fees, contributions and gift shop proceeds.

May is the museum's busy month for hosting school field trips. Although many schools have already registered for a tour in May, there is room for more, League said.

To schedule a tour, visit the website www.dakotadino.com education page. Complete the school field trip schedule form and submit.

The museum also offers membership oppportunities. Visit www.dakotadino.com for more information.

"A visit to the museum provides an excellent educational experience for individuals of all ages," Alice League said. "Visitors tell us it may take more than one visit to absorb all the information."

The museum is located at 200 E. Museum Drive. It is open through Labor Day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Entrance fees are $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 3 to 12.

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