Gitche Gumee Agate and History Museum

Navigation Menu


Home Page

Click to enter our class!
Leave a message




June 2015

During my creative time over the winter and early spring I ended up re-prioritizing my projects. One of the influences on my decision came from visitors to the museum last summer that were eager to learn how to find agates. I produced the DVD to accomplish this educational mission, but many people who visit Grand Marais in the summer do not have any way to watch a DVD. So I decided to recycle information from the DVD and produce a companion book with the same information.


I designed it as a backpack-compatible size (5.5” x 8.5”). The book describes the new method of agate hunting that I developed after researching why many people have difficulty in finding the elusive Lake Superior agate. Most hunt by trying to look at every rock, only to become overwhelmed by the visual challenge. A condition called “perceptual blindness” results, which causes the brain to shut down to detail and can lead to “pretty rock syndrome.” There is an easier and more effective way. This book explains the new method. Over 90 images are used to train your eyes so your brain will trust that agates can instead find you! You can purchase the book from the online gift shop included on this webpage.

Over the winter I was invited by rockhounding friend, Sharon Smith, to go to Hawaii. She has friends on the Big Island that offered us a free place to stay. My funds are limited so at first I said that I could not afford to go. Then I started to brainstorm how I could pay for the trip and remembered that I have a lot of items that were never incorporated into the museum displays. Because I personally own these items that have not seen the light of day in 17 years – I decided to sell some of them. At first I posted these items for sale on the blog, but now I have organized these vintage photos, old postcards, photo reprints, and other tourism and Grand Marais-related items in binders. The binders are in the gift shop for people to look through. Other artifacts and historical items will also be available for sale over the summer.

One of the things I forgot that I have in the history archive is a large collection of original film negatives from a century ago. These negatives document Grand Marais during its heyday. Upon investigation I found out that there are new technology scanners that allow you to easily convert film negatives to positive JPEG image files. Of course I had to buy one of these scanners. I not only scanned in all the negatives, but also all the vintage photos and postcards. During the long tedious hours at the scanner, I remembered that I also have a large data base of information I collected about Grand Marais history. When I was developing the museum’s displays in 1998, I did months of research about Grand Marais history. That is when I decided that I have to write a Grand Marais history book. I have already started writing the book, but then I realized I was missing some of the early Upper Peninsula history. Although people did not live in Grand Marais prior to the mid-1800s, I feel that it is important to understand human history in the U.P. prior to this time. So I am currently researching this earlier period and adding the information to the data base. Once I finish this research, I will resume writing. I am not sure when this project will be done, but I am hoping that I will complete the book sometime this summer. The working title (and probably final title) is At the End of the Road: The History of Grand Marais, Michigan. One of the photos included in the new history book is shown below. After I finish the Grand Marais history book, I will resume work on the Arizona geology book. In the future I am also hoping to write a book on Hawaiian geology.

Grand Marais Plank Road

In response to questions I have received from agate hunters about the post-winter beach conditions in Grand Marais -- there is good and bad news. The good news is that the final push of ice did happen. Although the predominate winds were more westerly than northwesterly, we did have a lot of ice this spring that hugged our shoreline, melted, and dumped its rocks. The availability of rock on the beach, however, changes from shoreline section to shoreline section. Recent spring storms have pushed more rock up on some of the beaches. The bad news is that erosion continued, especially east of town, on the beach across the street from Muskallonge State Park, and the beach at Whitefish Point. My favorite beach reached through the Burt Township School Forest is no longer accessible. Actually, you can find spots to get down the sand bluff, but it is difficult if not impossible to get back up the near vertical sand cliffs. My friends and I have investigated beaches farther east and they are still in good condition with a lot of rock. In fact, many people have brought terrific agates into the museum this past week or so that they have found on the local beaches.

And finally, I have some sad news to report. I worked all winter and early spring trying to find a way to save the fish tug sitting outside the museum. The boat jacks are now working their way through the hull and the supports under the tug are giving away. The Shark is listing badly to the left and is in danger of falling over. I do not want the tug to fall and hurt anyone. At first I tried to get preservation groups to help, to no avail. Then I tried to just get a contractor to prop the boat up with heavy equipment so we can re-do the boat jacks and other supports. One contractor looked at the condition of the wood and concluded that it is not solid enough to allow him to safely try to right the tug. Thus, I have no choice but to have the boat dismantled and hauled away. However, my son, Jonathan, had a good suggestion. We are going to try to save the very front end of the bow and mount it to the side of the museum building. I don’t know if it is possible, but we are going to give it a try to save at least some of this 75 year old fish tug, which is the last handmade tug left intact in the Great Lakes region. If there are any other artistic pieces of wood that we can pull off during dismantiling –I may have some of these mounted as wall art that will be available for sale. The pictures below show: (1) the Shark, the day of launch in 1940; (2) The museum founder’s brother, Arvi Niemi, with the Shark at the museum’s grand opening in 1999; and (3) The tug after we painted it the last time a few years ago.


Happy rockhounding!

Karen Brzys
Gitche Gumee Museum
E21739 Brazel Street, PO Box 308
Grand Marais, MI 49839

The museum's hours are:

End of May, beginning the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend Sunday thru Friday 2-5 pm
Saturday 12-5 pm
June—Open every day Sunday thru Friday 2-5 pm
Saturday 12-5 pm
July and August—Open every day Monday thru Saturday 11-6 pm
(New Hours)
Sunday 2-5 pm
September—Open every day Sunday thru Friday 2-5 pm
Saturday 12-5 pm
October – end of May I am traveling a lot during these months exhibiting my mineral art at shows. Please call 906-494-2590 at least a week in advance if you would like to set up a private museum visit. A donation or purchase is requested for all private appointments.

NOTE: Due to an annual family event that takes place on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend that I would like to attend, the Gitche Gumee Museum will now open each year on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend and will be open daily from then to the end of September. I will plan on having the museum ready for appointments by mid-May each year, so if you would like to set up an appointment please email me at, or call me at 906-494-2590. It is best to set up appointments in advance in case I am busy or out of town. I try to accommodate impromptu appointments, but this is not always possible. For private appointments, I ask for a donation or purchase that is commensurate with the time required for the museum visit.

Art and Mineral Show and Agate Talk Schedule

NOTE: I have decided to scale back my show schedule for 2015. At this point, these are the shows I plan on attending and setting up a booth.

  • July 18-19, 2015
    • EXHIBIT BOOTH – 46rd Annual Moose Lake, MN Agate Days. Located at the Moose Lake High School, 413 Birch Avenue. Event hours are Saturday 9:00 to 5:00; Sunday 9:00 to 4:00. The Clark-Olsen Agate Stampede is at 2:00 on Saturday. More information is available at
  • August 1, 2015
    • EXHIBIT BOOTH – 40th Annual Upper Peninsula Gem and Mineral Show, sponsored by the Ishpeming Rock and Mineral Club. Located at Ishpeming Elks Club Hall, 597 Lake Shore Dr., Ishpeming, MI. Show hours are Saturday from 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. The show includes free admission; kids' area, silent auction, hourly prizes, raffle, demonstrations, & dealers. FIELD TRIPS associated with the show happen on Friday and Sunday. There is also a Cracker Barrel session Saturday evening at 7pm with live mineral auction, raffle, food, and a speaker. For more information Contact Ernest Johnson, 1962 W. Fair, Marquette, MI 49855, phone 906-228-9422, e-mail:
  • September 12 & 13, 2015
    • EXHIBIT BOOTH and AGATELADY TALKS – 7th Annual Muskallunge State Park Annual Rock On Agate Show. Located at 30042 County Road 407 in Deer Park, MI half way between Newberry and Grand Marais,. Show hours have not yet been announced but they will be all day on Saturday and Sunday. Camping is available. I will be giving a talk on both days. The show includes rock dealers, food dealers, kids games, presentations, demonstrations, rock cutting and polishing services, silent auctions, and more. For more information please call 906-658-3338. Information about last year’s show is available at:
  • October 23-25, 2015
    • EXHIBIT BOOTH -- 50th Annual Central Michigan Lapidary & Mineral Society Show. Main Arena, Ingham County Fairgrounds, 700 E. Ash Street, Mason, MI 48854. Event hours are Friday 6:00 to 9:00, Saturday 10:00 to 7:00, and Sunday 11:00 to 5:00. Show includes vendors, exhibits, crafts, art, jewelry, demonstrations, displays, flint knappers, rock identification, kids’ activities, free prizes for kids, door prizes, rock cutting, and more, For more information please go to or .
  • December 4-6, 2015
    • EXHIBIT BOOTH – TV6 Marquette.MI Christmas Craft Show. Located at the Superior Dome, 1401 Presque Isle Avenue. Show hours are Friday 5:00 to 9:00, Saturday 10:00 to 6:00, and Sunday 11:00 to 4:00. More information is available at

June 2015 Update

Mineral of the Month
Petoskey Stone
History’s Gem of the Month
Vintage Grand Marais photos
On-line Gift Shop
New Book: How to Find Agates: A New Method
Gitche Gumee Gatherings
Information about
scheduling private, in-home private art shows
Gitche Gumee Gatherings
Media Coverage
Petoskey News
Agate Photo
Testimonial from a Mineral Art customer
Laura's Lamp


Copyright All rights reserved.
Gitche Gumee Museum.
E21739 Brazel Street
Grand Marais, Michigan 49839


Web Site Designed By
Web Site Design ServiceSearch Engine Optimization Firm