The Permanent Collection

The Lizzadro Museum displays more than 200 pieces of jade and other hardstone carvings from around the world, featuring several internationally famous pieces. Included are a fine nephrite jade imperial altar set completed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and an exquisite cinnabar screen encrusted with carved gemstones. The screen was a birthday gift to the Chinese emperor, Qianlong (Ch’ien Lung) in 1791. Both the screen and the altar set were originally housed in the lavish imperial palaces of China.

Other prime examples of lapidary art are exhibited in the form of snuff bottles, modern and antique vases and bowls, and many other decorative and functional items. Three walls of the Museum’s main floor feature dioramas, each one a small scene populated by creatures native to that environment. Children and adults alike are fascinated by the gemstone inhabitants of these dioramas, all of which were carved in Idar-Oberstein, Germany.

The Museum’s collection also features beautiful examples of Florentine and Roman stone mosaics, cameos and intaglios, and displays of faceted gemstones and mineral specimens. Finally, the awe-inspiring Castle Lizzadro is an 18K gold sculpture with diamond windows setting on a base of mineral specimens.

The Rock & Mineral Experience

The permanent exhibit hall in the Museum’s lower level was renovated in 2011 and features 26 new exhibits. Learn how a tree turns to stone, how hard jade is, what minerals make up granite and see fossils through geologic time. Exhibits include rough and polished stone with outstanding minerals. Touch a meteorite or watch short videos on jade carving, cabochon cutting, faceting and an introduction to the Museum exhibits. Interact with the Illinois map and fluorescent mine along with hands on specimens.

The Rock & Mineral Experience was renovated with help from a State of Illinois Capital Grant.