A longtime Tucson real estate developer, Allan Norville provided the initial gift for the new museum to memorialize his wife, Alfie. She had played a key role in the mid-1990s in persuading the shows that bring tens of thousands of visitors to Tucson every January and February to remain in Tucson rather than relocate to Phoenix or Las Vegas. In 1993, to demonstrate their commitment, the Norvilles founded the Gem & Jewelry Exchange (GJX), one of the leading gem/jewelry venues that annually boost revenue for Tucson and the county. Today, GJX, which opens in early February and is across from the Tucson Convention Center, is one of the city’s major show attractions.
Robbie McCarty grew up in Tucson, attending local schools and graduated from the University of Arizona with a BA in Education. She spent her 37-year teaching career in California with the Fountain Valley School District. While she taught every grade from 2nd to 8th, Robbie spent most of her time with 7th and 8th grade math and science classes. When computers arrived, that became her challenge, learning all she could, writing grants to purchase computers for her school, and developing curriculum appropriate for middle school students. She mentored other teachers in the district and made presentations at local, state and national conventions. She left the classroom for the district office to provide technology training for teachers, curriculum development, and one on one support for teachers and students at all of the schools.
In the early 1970's Robbie and husband Bill fell in love with minerals and began on their life-long collecting journey. After realizing that they could not have one of everything, they took the advice of their mentors, Wayne and Dona Leicht, and narrowed their focus. They picked Arizona Miniatures, learning not only about the vast array of minerals from Arizona but the mining and history of the state as well. Minerals from their collection have been included in various publications such as American Mineral Treasures and the Mineralogical Record. Their calcite from Ray Arizona won best Arizona Calcite at a TGMS Show. A large part of her collection is on display at the University of Arizona Gem and Mineral Museum.
Robbie has been on the Board since 2013.