INFO 601-02 Assignment 3 : Observation By Umang Arora

While exploring New York City streets during the week, I came across a store “Astro Gallery of Gems, Minerals and Fossils ” located in the heart of the city’s famous and favorite shopping district, Fifth Avenue. The store is quite huge and displays thousands of minerals, gems, fossils, and pieces of rare, unusual jewelry and pieces of home decoration.

Love For Rare Finds…The Start Of The Journey

Since it was founded in 1961, Astro Gallery has a long and rich history. Julio Tanjeloff was delighted with minerals and believed that there could be a market for high-end collectible specimens that could beautify the workplace and homes of customers.

He founded the company with this belief and vision and in 1963 opened doors for the public to the Astro Gallery of Gems, Minerals, and Fossils. Astro Gallery has been catering to big names in the art, fashion, design and performing industries through the years.

Dennis Tanjeloff, Julio’s grandson, took over the business in 1988 after Julio passed away due to a sudden heart attack. Since the age of four, when he first traveled the world with his grandfather in search of minerals, gems, fossils, and related objects, Dennis had been working closely with family business.

By 2004, by curating top collections and museums, running an online business and participating in mining investments, Dennis reinvented Astro Gallery.

Natural History And Fine Minerals For Purchase

The window display has this large yellow mineral, which caught my eye immediately, and this beautiful white coral was on the other side. One is greeted by beautiful minerals, gems, and meteorites after entering the store, along with fossils that one would expect to see in a museum. The countries from which these items are sourced are listed alongside each item’s name (both online and on site). The extensive variety of natural history items on display provides something for everyone to enjoy, admire and afford from kids to adults.

Together with the advanced collector, specimens on display will excite interested novices. The museum quality items are admired and loved by everybody who enters the store. From small stones to thousand-pound amethyst geodes, fossils, rare butterflies mounted in glass to decorate one’s wall as if on flight, along with amazing custom-made jewelry, every person of every age was amazed at the items on sale.

For yourself and others, you can find beautiful gifts. Stunning home decoration items and bath collections carved from stone, hearts, and animals made from beautiful crystals, desk stationery ready to take center stage in your workplace and lamps designed from stones to illuminate your homes are all affordable gifts available in the store. Also available for sale is custom jewelry designed from gems and stones.

The Astro Gallery displays amazing obelisk cut from rare stones such as calcite and agate. An obelisk is a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering that ends in the shape of a pyramid. Rare bugs and critters mounted in framed glass and stone are also available for sale. For one’s house, quality museum fossils are available for purchase. There is a whole section dedicated to shells and corals after going further inside, which have unique and beautiful pieces to decorate your living room.

To catch the finest minerals, take a walk to the back of the store. Behind glass-enclosed cases are amazing view of colorful and rare minerals lit up on each glass top with spotlights. Discover minerals so big that one can crawl and rest among the crystals in every corner of the store. A whole section is assigned to shells and bones. The bones and teeth of various dinosaurs were on display on one side of the mounted frame with a brief description and picture on the other.

Many of the displayed pieces were marked with the sign ‘ No touch. ‘ This indicated that due to its high value and history, the artifacts (information-as-thing) must be preserved as much as possible.

When I arrived at the store in the evening, the amazing collection was being looked at and admired by a lot of people. Children were fascinated by butterflies, rare bugs and insects and asked various questions about the origin of these fossils, corals and insects and how they recovered them. Everyone present was amazed at the items on view and had a bunch of collection – related questions, it’s history and origin. I felt that every section of the store should have a brief description. Also, the names, origin and a little about each stone and crystal should be marked. At the same time, if certain studied gaps are left in the information provided, this will induce communication with the store staff and will actually create a cheerful atmosphere. This communication can also be an important source of deducing customer interest and behavior.

As Buckland mentioned in his paper Information as Thing (1991, p.354), objects are collected, stored, retrieved and examined as information, as a basis for becoming informed. I really enjoyed this observation and discovered how people interacted with the information in a store displaying natural history items one would expect to see in a museum. Writing about museums: “In the first stage, the objects themselves are the only repository of information.” (Orna and Pettit (1980, p.9)). It was fascinating to see that, like museums, Astro Gallery promotes and celebrates different groups and cultures by showcasing collective artifacts from around the world. The store has become a bridge where cultures can be communicated, knowledge desired and development promoted.

For anyone visiting New York City, the Astro Gallery of Gems, Minerals and Fossils is certainly a must – stop destination. Everyone of all ages will want to see the natural history on display in the store and maybe have the opportunity to take home a little piece of the historic wonder.


• Buckland, M.K. (1991). Information as Thing. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 351-357.

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