Mineral collection

A specimen of the turquoise variety called Henwoodite, named after William Jory Henwood (1805-1875) from West Phoenix Mine, Linkinhorne, Cornwall

A variety of turquoise called Henwoodite, from West Phoenix Mine, Linkinhorne, Cornwall


The Museum’s mineral collection is one of the most important and comprehensive collections of its type in the world. It contains about 185,000 specimens and, besides a small number of specialised regional and historical collections, is organised on a species-systematic basis.

The mineral collection contains many famous and significant mineral specimens from the British Isles. It also holds a number of early European specimens and is very rich in specimens from more distant territories once governed by the UK - particularly from the Victorian era and early twentieth century.

It is one of the largest collections worldwide of scientifically sacrosanct ‘type’ mineral specimens, and contains the most diverse systematic collection of unmounted gemstones in the UK.

The majority of the known species in the mineral kingdom are represented in this systematic collection. It is still being actively studied and added to by research scientists.

Countries of origin

Worldwide coverage.

Looking for a specimen?

The mineral collection is being digitised

Principal Curator, Minerals

Mike Rumsey

Curator, Minerals and Gemstones

Robin Hansen

Any questions?

If you would like to use any specimens for research, please get in touch

Accessing the collections

Scientists and collections management specialists can visit the collections and borrow specimens for research.

Collections management

Our duty is to provide a safe and secure environment for all of our collections.

Collections on the move

We have set out on an ambitious programme to develop a new science and digitisation centre at Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire by 2026. As we prepare for the move, access to some collections will be affected.

Find out more and sign up to our newsletter to receive updates on changes to collections access, relevant news and opportunities to get involved.