Bruce Museum Presents "Crystals in Art" Discussion

GREENWICH, CT — Crystals have long had the power to captivate the human mind with their enigmatic beauty and mysterious properties.

Join the Bruce Museum on Tuesday, November 24, 7:00 – 8:30 pm, for Crystals in Art: From Ancient Egypt to the PresentIn this Bruce Presents virtual conversation via Zoom, James Zigras, a noted expert in the field of mineralogy, will address the scientific and historical aspects of crystal in art, and Dr. Joachim Pissarro, the Bershad Professor of Art History at Hunter College/CUNY and Director of the Hunter College Art Galleries, will provide an art historian’s perspective on this enduringly fascinating subject.

Admission to the virtual Bruce Presents, Crystals in Art: From Ancient Egypt to the Present, is $20 for non-members; Museum members receive a 20% discount. To make a reservation to participate in the webinar, visit or call 203-869-0376. Support for Bruce Presents programs is generously provided by Berkley One, a Berkley Company, Connecticut Office of the Arts, and Northern Trust.

James Zigras is an American collector who has amassed several important collections of minerals and gems. His company, James Zigras LLC, offers appraisals and consulting on mineral specimens as well as gemstones. Zigras is President and owner of Avant Mining LLC, which is the world’s largest crystal mining company with over 11,400 acres and 22 mines, primarily in Arkansas. Avant focuses on high-quality quartz crystals, as well as wavellite and Arkansas turquoise.

A native of New Jersey, Zigras became interested in minerals at age 12 after his mother took him to meetings of local gem and mineral clubs. He attended Montclair State University, receiving his Bachelor of History degree in 2004.

Zigras is the only living person to be honored with a species of mineral (zigrasite), life (Haidomyrmex zigrasi), and genus (Zigrasimecia). The James Zigras Amber Collection is housed at the American Museum of Natural History on long-term, indefinite loan. Considered the most important private amber collection ever assembled, it contains nearly 8,000 specimens and has contributed to the identification of over 1,000 species found within amber pieces.

Zigras has completed appraisals of important gems and minerals for The American Museum of Natural History, The Smithsonian, Harvard University, Yale University, and the California Institute of Technology. In 2019, Zigras’ Avant Mining was the lead supporter of the seminal show Crystals in Art: Ancient to Today at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Joachim Pissarro was educated at the Sorbonne in Paris and received an M. Phil. in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute, London, and a PhD in History of Art from the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Pissarro was named the Bershad Professor of Art History and Director of the Hunter College Galleries, Hunter College, New York in 2007. Previously, Pissarro was Curator at MoMA’s Department of Painting and Sculpture where he organized several exhibitions: Colors of the Night: Van Gogh’s Nocturnal Paintings (2009) and Pioneering Modern Painting: Cézanne and Pissarro (2005). 

Pissarro’s teaching and writing presently focus on the challenges facing art history due to the unprecedented proliferation of art works, images, and visual data. He co-authored a book on this topic with David Carrier, entitled Wild Art.  He curated the show Crystals in Art: Ancient to Today at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the 2017 exhibition Olga Picasso at the Musée Picasso Paris, which subsequently traveled to the Pushkin Museum, Moscow, the Picasso Museum in Malaga, and the Caixa Forum in Madrid. Dr. Pissarro also serves on the Board of the Hermitage Museum Foundation in New York City.

Renowned mineral collector and Honorary Trustee Robert R. Wiener will introduce the speakers at the November 24 webinar. In June 2020, the Bruce Museum announced a significant new gift of minerals from Mr. Wiener’s private collection. The recent donation follows the gift of nearly 100 world-class minerals that Wiener pledged to the Museum in 2018, which also included a number of exceptional – and exceptionally large – museum-quality specimens. These magnificent minerals will be permanently highlighted along with selections from the Bruce Museum’s existing collection of gems and minerals in the new Robert R. Wiener Mineral Gallery when the New Bruce opens in 2022.

Visit to reserve your place in the Bruce Presents virtual program, Crystals in Art: From Ancient Egypt to the Present, Tuesday, November 24, 7:00 – 8:30 pm. The speakers’ presentation will be followed by a Q&A session, moderated by Leonard Jacobs, producer of the Bruce Presents series.