Gitche Gumee Agate and History Museum

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November 2015


As has been true in past years, the museum’s season was crazy and very busy. At least that is true for July and August. June was considerably slower than previous years, mostly due to the cold, windy, and rainy weather. The amount of total sales was about even with last year. This is thanks to increased revenue in the museum’s gift shop that made up for sales lost from eliminating a few of the art shows at which I had a booth in previous years. From my experience, the art market has not totally recovered from the recession. Plus, shows are a lot of work as you can imagine so in the future I will continue to have a booth that makes hauling rocks and setting up/tearing down my complex booth worthwhile.

The museum’s season ended on September 30th, as usual. I have spent time since then making and filling custom mineral art orders, taking care of loose ends that were not attended to during the busy summer, making art for and attending the gem and mineral show in Mason, MI, and taking some much needed time off.

As many of you know this was the 17th year that I have operated the museum. I absolutely love being “the Agatelady” and teaching people about the elusive Lake Superior agate. Due to the tremendous effort it takes to work seven days a week for months on end, I have decided to make some changes for the 2016 season. The hours for the shoulder months will remain the same. This includes the end of May beginning Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, June, and September. The museum will continue to be open daily from 2-5pm, except for Saturdays Noon to 5pm. In July and August the museum will be open seven days a week, but I am going to close daily at 5pm instead of 6pm. Thus during this peak season the museum’s hours will be daily from 11am to 5pm, except for Sundays 2-5pm.

The other change I am going to make is that I am going to hire staff to cover one day a week. It has become too much for me to work seven days a week all summer long. I appreciate the fact that people are upset when they stop by the Gitche Gumee and I am not there. However, I will be a better “Agatelady” if I can have at least one day off a week. I have not yet decided which day of the week this will be, but it will probably be either Sundays or Mondays. I’ll let everyone know my final decision before the opening of the 2016 season. Thank you in advance for your understanding. I will do my best to insure that whoever works the museum on my behalf will be sufficiently trained.

Now that I have finished most of the things on my “to do” list, I will soon be turning my attention to work on the Grand Marais history book. I am very excited about this project. The title of the book will be At the End of the Road: The History of Grand Marais, Michigan. During the spring I started the research. In the next month I hope to finish the research and begin writing. My goal for the book is to help readers to appreciate how easy our lives are today as compared to a century ago. If everything goes as planned, I will have the book available for purchase prior to the museum’s opening next Memorial Day weekend.

As usual I have received questions regarding the condition of the Grand Marais beaches. As I have reported on this webpage as well as my blog, the extensive erosion has continued. My favorite agate hunting beach east of town is no longer accessible. It is also almost impossible to walk the beach from Woodland Park in town to Sable River, especially when there are any waves at all. The good news is that the fall storms so far have had waves that have pushed rock up onto the beach (see photos below). We will see what the predicted El Nino winter will do to ice cover on Lake Superior, as well as to the spring melt. According to NOAA, the precipitation in the upper Midwest is supposed to be less than average. The ice formation and icebergs greatly influence agate hunting. Hopefully we will have enough ice to move rocks to the Grand Marais beaches.

As I told you would happen in the last web page update, the fish tug Shark has been removed from the museum’s property. Although one contractor was supposed to have done this in the spring – he never showed up. So in early November I contacted another Grand Marais contractor and left him a message requesting to get on his schedule. The day after I left the message I had to go out of town. When I returned, the Shark was gone. Perhaps it is good that I was not here to watch the removal. I am sure I would have cried harder than I already did. I spoke with the contractor afterword and he said he was surprised that the fish tug was still standing at all since the wood was very rotten. At least we were able to appreciate the last Great Lakes hand-made fish tug for 17 more years. I was able to recover a few artifacts from the tug. One of the photos below shows the contractor helping me to remove one of the rope cleats. The Shark will be missed.

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 11-5 pm
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

  • NEW! November 27, 4-9 pm
    • EXHIBIT BOOTH -- Starry, Starry Night in Grand Marais, MI For the first time in several years I will be home for the Thanksgiving weekend. So I have decided to have items for sale as part of Grand Marais’s annual Starry, Starry Night. Rather than pay to heat the museum, I will instead have a mini-booth at the Agate Cross B&B, located at 14218 Woodruff St, Grand Marais, MI (behind the West Bay Diner). For more information call me ahead of time at 906-494-2590. During the hours of the event, please call 906-494-2990. Buy an item and pick out a free agate. Snacks will be served. Guided tours of the B&B will be available upon request. For more information about the B&B, which I think is the best place to stay at in the region, go to
  • 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

History’s Gem of the Month
Reprint of Grand Marais history article
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


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Gitche Gumee Museum.
E21739 Brazel Street
Grand Marais, Michigan 49839


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