As soon as I enter the gift shop, Jacob Lowry, Executive Director of the Turquoise Museum in downtown Albuquerque, greets me with a big smile and a hearty handshake. He is dressed to the nines and welcomes me to his family's Museum.
For five generations, the Lowrey family has been in the turquoise business: mining, collection, and presenting.
Other tourists are filing into the gifts shop, paying their admission, and perusing the beautiful items for sale. Soon we are invited to follow Jacob outside and next door to a glorious mansion known by locals as the former Gertrude Zachary Castle.
Jacob, the youngest generation working at the Museum, learned how to cut turquoise when he was nine and has traveled to New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada turquoise mining areas. He began lecturing about turquoise when he was 17 years old.
Once in the beautiful mansion, we see a brilliant turquoise chandelier in the foyer, a preview of things to come. Two excellent videos help educate us about what we will see and experience.
Museum literature says, "The Turquoise Museum is here to teach every subject related to turquoise; history, science, and art... education through fascination.”
We split up, able to look at the beautiful gems at our own pace. The Museum features exhibits including the science and geology of turquoise; turquoise mining; hundreds of examples of turquoise jewelry; and an overview of imitation turquoise. Jacob's father, Turquoise Museum Curator Joe Dan Lowry, is on hand to answer any questions, although the displays contain information about every gem and turquoise artwork.
In the International Gallery, for example, there are gems and jewelry from around the world.
The Museum houses what is believed to be the world's most extensive collection of turquoise.
After the extensive tour of the 8,500-square-foot castle, we all walk back to the gift shop to peruse the treasures there.