joan on rockHerb Zuhl on rock

In 1970, on vacation in Arizona from their New York City home, Herb and Joan Zuhl saw a rancher removing a petrified log from his land. Intrigued, the Zuhls dug up a log and shipped it home beginning a new passion and successful business. Cutting and polishing pieces of petrified wood produced assorted museum quality specimens and art objects soon in high demand in their Manhattan gallery. For more than thirty years, Herb and Joan Zuhl collected petrified wood, fossils, minerals, and rocks for their private collection and sold to collectors, designers and museums worldwide.


giant sequoia in ground

The Zuhls chose Las Cruces, NM as their retirement home in 1991 and sold their business, keeping more than 2,000 of the most impressive pieces of their collection for themselves.



ribbon cutting









In April 2000, the Zuhls generously allowed their personal collection to be displayed at New Mexico State University in the Zuhl Library. In 2003, a gift from the Zuhls underwrote the cost of remodeling and expanding gallery space in the NMSU Alumni and Visitors Center to house a larger portion of their collection in a museum setting. The museum opened its doors on October 30, 2004. 









 10/30/04: Joan Zuhl, cuts ribbon for the new Alumni Visitor Center.
From left: President Martin, Debbie Widger, Bob Gallagher and Herb Zuhl watch from behind. (photo by Darren Phillips)

ribbon cutting

In October of 2017, another gift made possible an extension to the Alumni and Visitors Center, increasing the area of the museum and adding a kids corner. Today over 1,800 specimens are in the Zuhl Collection with the majority on display in the Zuhl Museum, the Zuhl Library and Gardiner Hall , home of the Department of Geological Sciences

 Joan Zuhl died in February 2016 at age 90. Herb Zuhl died in February 2021 at age 98. The Zuhls planned their permanent collection to be used for education and research for generations to come.










10/26/2017: Herb Zuhl, far left, and New Mexico State University Chancellor Garrey Carruthers, far right,
lead the ribbon cutting ceremony during the reopening of Zuhl Museum. (NMSU photo by Andres Leighton)