Minerals

Step back in time to see the Museum as it was in 1881 with its original oak cabinets. Learn how minerals are formed and marvel at the origin of amber.

Minerals gallery

Of all the Museum's galleries, the Minerals gallery most faithfully retains Alfred Waterhouse's original architectural vision. Waterhouse's low display cases allow an uninterrupted view of the finely decorated square columns along the length of the gallery, and provide an airy display area to explore specimens.

The Minerals gallery

The Minerals gallery shows off raw, cut and polished gemstones. It gives an insight into where essentials such as toothpaste, matches and stainless steel come from, and presents a window on the Museum’s huge mineral research collection.

Part of the collection left by Sir Arthur Russell.

Sir Arthur Russell was a famous collector of British minerals who, on his death in 1964, left more than 12,500 items. His outstanding collection is preserved at the Museum.

A ‘snake stone’, made of calcite formed inside an ammonite shell.

This curved ‘snake stone’ is made of calcite formed inside an ammonite shell. Formations like these are known as snake stones because they were believed to be the petrified remains of snakes.

One of the largest known specimens of burmite ever found.

Burmese amber, or burmite, has a distinctive warm, red colour and is highly prized for jewellery. Our collection includes one of the largest-known specimens ever found.

The raw mineral taaffeite alongside the cut gem.

In our collection you can see rare and beautiful gems, such as taaffeite, sparkling alongside the raw minerals they originate from. Taaffeite was first discovered already cut by Dublin gemmologist Edward Charles Taaffe in 1845. It had been wrongly identified as a hard, glassy mineral called spinel.