By Josh Hertzog   Published Feb 26, 2005 at 5:39 AM

{image1} The Milwaukee Public Museum will shimmer, sparkle and shine as it unveils "Pearls: A Natural History" March 5-June 26.

The exhibit, organized by the American Museum of Natural History in collaboration with the Chicago Field Museum, contains the most comprehensive collection of pearls ever assembled. It traces the lore, legends and facts of this treasure of nature.

"'Pearls: A Natural History' reveals the important intersection of culture and science," says Michael Stafford, museum president and CEO.

The exhibit features 500,000 pearls set in nearly 500 pieces of jewelry and decorative art from collections all over the world including Venezuela, Tahiti and the South Sea and exquisite natural pearls from the royal courts of Renaissance Europe, Imperial China, India and Russia.

Catch a glimpse of jewelry worn by American celebrities from the honeymoon necklace Joe DiMaggio gave to Marilyn Monroe to the triple-strand necklace owned by former First Lady Barbara Bush.

And the science buffs will enjoy learning the chemistry and biology behind a pearl's formation and how pearls attain their characteristic luster, color and glow.

Stafford says this is a one-of-a-kind experience. "Visitors will be captivated by the science and mesmerized by the stunning jewels and decorative art."

Participate in the pearl jewelry workshops, and learn knotting, crimping and wire wrapping techniques from a trained jeweler while creating a pearl necklace or pair of pearl earrings with a matching bracelet. Classes also include a brief history of the production of pearl jewelry and tips on the proper care of them.

The cost is $90 per class, including all supplies and tools to keep, plus hot lunch in the Museum's Café Costa Rica. Classes are 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. including a 30-minute lunch break. Registration is required. Call (414) 278-2728 or (888) 700-9069 for more information.

Tickets to "Pearls," which include museum admission, are: $14 for adults (16-61); $12.50 for seniors (62+) and $9.50 for children (3-15).

The Milwaukee Public Museum's Web site is, or call (414) 278-2702 or (888) 700-9069. The Milwaukee Public Museum is located at 800 W. Wells St. and is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.