Last week the renderings for the soon-to-be redesigned Halls of Gems & Minerals were unveiled at the American Museum of Natural History, and the projected new look was not exactly an immediate hit with anyone who ever found comfort in those dark, glittering, carpeted spaces. The halls have remained largely untouched since 1976, but starting on October 26th, they'll shut down in order to be gutted and stripped of their 1970s vibe. When they reopen in 2019, they'll look more like a circa-2017 Apple Store. It was a good run, charm and character.

Nostalgia is death, some say, and as we learned from Don Draper that delicate and potent force "literally means the pain from an old wound." But that guy was a drunk who hated his past; we need certain corners of NYC to remain the same forever so that we may duck into them from time to time and be embraced by the warm comfort of familiarity. That carpeting may be a little gross, but it holds decades of dirt and adventure and tears and tantrums and wonder and memories.

There's no stopping this steamroller, however, so the best we could do was fully document (sans smell) this special place, where you'll undoubtedly "ache to go again." Click through for a look at one more treasured NYC spot that's doomed to be transformed beyond recognition.

Visitors in Minerals Hall, 1976. (Courtesy of the AMNH)

The original 1970s design was meant to "simulate the interior of Earth from which the exhibited specimens were extracted—with an earthy-brown, multi-leveled interior, brightly illuminated exhibit cases, and freestanding specimens arranged to evoke a subterranean cache of mineral wealth," according to a description sent to Gothamist from a museum rep. We also asked about the new design, and the approval process it went through, but have not heard back about that yet. So for now, here's a little history on the place, straight from the museum:

  • Minerals and gems have been part of the Museum since it opened in 1869.
  • Today, the Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals are among the Museum’s best-known and beloved halls, featuring exquisite treasures from around the world.
  • Almost everything in the Guggenheim Hall of Minerals came out of the Earth looking the way it does on display, while the stones in the Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems, a virtual treasure chest of gems, have been shaped and polished to bring out qualities like sparkle, color, and texture.
  • In 1976, the present Guggenheim Hall of Minerals and Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems opened on the Museum’s first floor.
  • Minerals and gems have been displayed in several different galleries in the Museum before the opening of the current hall. Prior to 1974, the cavernous J. Pierpont Morgan Memorial Hall of Minerals and Gems on the fourth floor served as the primary display and storage area.

And again, here's our future:

Rendering shows the south entrance to the new Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals. (Courtesy of the AMNH)