“Minerals of Minecraft” a rock-solid success

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photo by Cole Stefl

Weis Earth Science Museum (WESM) offers down-to-earth fun for students and geology enthusiasts.  The latest buzz around WESM is its new exhibit “Minerals of Minecraft.”

The game Minecraft has over 100 million registered online players, according to its creator Markus Persson, and is attracting interested school kids to the museum, even on their spring break.

Gabe Gaerthofner, a local fourth grader on spring break, traveled with his family of four to learn about the reality of Minecraft.

“[Me and my brother] are really interested in Minecraft and we both wanted to see what their lookalikes were,” Gaerthofner said.

When asked how Minecraft compares to the natural world, Gaerthofner was shocked.

“Obsidian doesn’t look like obsidian at all. Obsidian really isn’t durable like it is in Minecraft. The game doesn’t really compare to real life,” Gaerthofner stated.

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Visiting spring breakers observe a dinosaur exhibit at WESM · photo by Cole Stefl

“WESM is trying to stay relevant to popular culture,” Wies Museum Director Joanne Kluessendorf said. “We decided since we deal with earth science and minerals that it would be a nice connection for adults and kids to enjoy, and kind of talk about the minerals in Minecraft that people mine to create their fantastic worlds and the real minerals that they’re comparable to.”

The WESM isn’t just focused on attracting younger crowds. Kluessendorf explained how WESM matches up to the other Wisconsin geology museums.

“We have some of the really best dinosaur stuff around, especially in this area. We have a nest of 22 dinosaur eggs from Mongolia—which is just fantastic—and all the eggs are exactly in the right place they were laid and stuff. We also have a complete dinosaur that shows the gizzard stones in its stomach,” Kluessendorf said.

All across the state, people are coming to WESM.

“I actually am here for my geology class at UW Oshkosh—it’s an extra credit opportunity if we come here and go to the exhibit. I think it’s one of the closest and best quality geology museums in the area,” Annie Hack Arty, a sophomore at UW Oshkosh, said.

Kluessendorf says there isn’t anything else like this in the area.

“There are no dinosaur [exhibits] in the area, [there’s] one in Stevens Point and otherwise the rest are by Milwaukee,” Kluessendorf said.

“The UW Oshkosh class ties into what the Fox museum has to offer,” Hack Arty said.

Yearly, 10,000–12,000 school kids gather and attend field trip to WESM, according to Kluessendorf. WESM is located left of the UW-Fox Planetarium.