The University of Arizona Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum in downtown Tucson is opening its doors to the public for Sneak Preview Tours for a limited time.

The two-hour tour is an immersive experience guided and narrated by staff and docents, and gives up to 20 visitors at a time the opportunity to see the museum’s three galleries before the official museum grand opening early next year.

“Our staff is extremely excited to finally share the museum and its amazing exhibits with visitors for a first look. From science to art to humans’ interaction with gems and minerals, we have something for everyone at the museum to enjoy,” said Jordan Halter, the museum’s guest services coordinator.

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Tickets for the Sneak Preview Tours are $25 and are available for advance purchase on the museum website through Eventbrite.

The new museum is dedicated to storytelling around minerals and the mineral evolution theory. Notable pieces include a 400-pound malachite specimen from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; a 410-pound silver nugget found outside of Globe, Arizona; a 210-pound Azurite specimen from the late 1880s; the Wells Fargo Arizona Gold Collection; and a display of gem and mineral art pieces created by local artist Nicolai Medvedev. The 12,000-square-foot facility has a large area in which people can be socially distanced. Visitors are highly encouraged to wear face coverings at this time.

The museum is located at 115 N. Church Ave. in downtown Tucson. Parking is available in the adjacent El Presidio Parking Garage, and parking validation is available at the Southern Arizona Heritage and Cultural Center, located directly across from the museum in the Historic Pima County Courthouse. The Southern Arizona Heritage and Cultural Center is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

General admission tickets to the museum are expected to be available for purchase prior to the start of the University of Arizona’s fall semester on Aug. 23. General admission will be $15 for adults (ages 13-64), $10 for seniors (65 and older) and military with ID, and $5 for children (ages 4-12) and students with a Pima County Community College or University of Arizona ID.

The museum’s new Docent Program is accepting volunteers. Those interested can sign up through the museum website or call 520-621-5937.

The Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum is named for the late Alfie Norville, a co-founder of the Gem and Jewelry Exchange show that runs during the annual Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase. An initial gift by the Norville family made it possible for the renovation and the move of the mineral museum from the UArizona campus to downtown Tucson. Construction on the museum began in 2018.