Mel Hindin: A Museum Treasure
Mel Hindin and his wife Lois Petzold Hindin
Visitors to the Museum’s Hall of Gems and Minerals have undoubtedly noticed the scores of impressive specimens on display bearing the proud label “Gift of Melvin Hindin.” In fact, some of the most important additions to the Museum’s mineralogy collections in recent years were gifts from Mel. Sadly, Mel passed away last December, but his cherished friendship and legacy of generosity endure.
Mel first developed a love for museums as a child growing up in the Pittsburgh area. Though his chosen profession as a social worker was far afield from museums, he never forgot that love. Toward the end of his distinguished career, which culminated in the directorship of the Hathaway Home for Children in Highland Park, Mel decided to “prepare for retirement” by becoming a docent at the Natural History Museum.
From 1984 until his death in 2007—a span of nearly a quarter century—the Museum became a major focus of Mel’s life. Mel not only served as a touring docent but also as a volunteer in the Mineral Sciences Department. He was an active member of the Board of Directors of the Museum’s Gem & Mineral Council and played a leadership role as a member of the Museum Alliance. Together with wife Lois Petzold Hindin, Mel was also active in the Fellows Program.
As a docent, Mel especially relished giving tours of the Hall of Gems and Minerals, which led him to become acquainted with Dr. Anthony Kampf, the Museum’s curator of Gems and Minerals. Mel immersed himself in the world of gem and mineral enthusiasts and assembled a fine collection of his own. But Mel always put the Museum first, and during his last 15 years the Museum’s Mineral Sciences Department was the particular beneficiary of Mel’s enthusiastic support.
Guests can now view a portion of Mel’s spectacular collection in a new display in the Hall of Gems and Minerals. Many other pieces that Mel donated can be found throughout the Hall. His friendship and remarkable spirit of generosity will be missed, but he will forever remain a part of the Museum through the many rare and wonderful specimens that he so thoughtfully gave.
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