Rijksmusuem says 'moon rock' worthless wood

31st August 2009, Comments 1 comment

The rock which turns out to be petrified wood was a gift given by a US ambassador to a former Dutch prime minister.

The Hague – A treasured piece of moon rock showcased in a key Amsterdam museum is nothing but petrified wood, museum authorities said of a gift made to a former Dutch prime minister by a US envoy.

The exhibit at the Rijksmuseum, originally gifted to Willem Drees in 1969 by then US ambassador William Middendorf as a souvenir of a pathbreaking trip by three US astronauts on July 20, 1969.

"When we received it, we insured it for 100,000 florins or EUR 50,000 in today's money," said Xandra van Gelder, the editor-in-chief of the museum's internal magazine.

But she told AFP that it was "hardly worth EUR 50," adding that museum authorities had been alerted by space and other experts. This was confirmed by independent studies on the object, which is roughly the size of a matchbox.

"What is also strange is that in 1969, when Willem Drees was given this 'rock,' it was 11 years after he had stepped down as prime minister."

The US space agency NASA gifted pieces of the alleged moon rock to several countries.

The Rijksmuseum, one of the world's top museums, is better known for its vast collection of paintings by Rembrandt.

AFP / Expatica

1 Comment To This Article

  • HistoryTechDoc posted:

    on 31st August 2009, 11:09:50 - Reply

    Interesting story, perhaps. However, there is no mention of any attempt to contact the U.S. State Department concerning this article.

    By the way, I think that one would find that an authentic, "matchbox" sized moon rock would be considered rather large and exceptional for any specimin found in a non-scientific collection outside the U.S.

    Hopefully, more investigative details and the other side of this story will surface shortly.