Long before the Bob Campbell Geology Museum was constructed in the South Carolina Botanical Garden, a small collection of rocks and minerals was stored in the geology department in Brackett Hall. Mrs. Betty Newton was the caretaker of that collection, and her dream was to have a gem and mineral display that was easily accessible to the general public. To help make her dream come true, Mrs. Newton took advantage of every opportunity to tell people about the University's geology collection and solicited donations of additional specimens.
In 1990, a large collection of faceted gemstones and cabochons was donated by Clemson alum Dr. Paul Benson, III. The collection was created by Dr. Benson's father, Paul Benson, Jr., a graduate of the University of South Carolina. This was the first large donation that the museum received.
In the same year, Mr. Robert Schabilion, a gem and lapidary wholesaler from Mississippi, donated an impressive variety of large mineral and fossil specimens, as well as hundreds of pounds of rough material to be given away to children. For many years after he continued to donate outstanding specimens to the growing collection.
Mr. Kermit Watson, a gem and mineral appraiser, donated his collection of mineral specimens, which included an assortment of agates and geodes. Mr. Watson also donated his appraisal expertise in evaluating other collections offered to the museum.
Mr. Robert S. "Bob" Campbell owned a variety of rock quarries in South Carolina, and was kind enough to pass his extensive collection of gemstones, minerals, and fossils to Clemson. In 1996, Mr. Campbell and his wife, Betsy, made a commitment to help fund the construction of a new building that would house the geology museum.
Sadly, in early 1998 Mrs. Newton passed away, but the museum she envisioned continued to take shape. In September of that year the museum was formally dedicated, and it opened to the public in October.
Currently Dr. Patrick McMilan is the Director of the South Carolina Botanical Garden and the Campbell Geology Museum.