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 mineralogical collections at the Museum comprise separate collections of minerals, gems, rocks, meteorites and ores.
The mineral and gem collections are a central focus for research activities for the mineral sciences group.
The collections have their origins in the early curiosity cabinets of the 18th Century but greatly expanded through intense collecting and purchasing periods in the 19th and 20th Centuries. The registered collection contains almost 200,000 mineral entries and around 5,000 gems, with thousands more kept for destructive research or teaching.
The mineral collection is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the world and with its long history is perhaps, in culmination, the most scientifically studied mineral collection in existence.
It was built not only to showcase examples of each mineral species, but also to document the variation within a single species of crystal form, mineral assemblage and different source locations.
This collection-building ethos is no longer practical today, but growth continues in key areas with several hundred samples being added to the collection each year.
Highlights of the collection include the Scientific Types collection, the Arthur Russell Collection of British Minerals, the Ashcroft Swiss Collection and the Pain and Matthews Collections of Gemstones.
Countries of origin
Sir Hans Sloane
Charles Hatchett, FRS
Reverend Clayton Mordaunt Cracherode
The Right Honourable Charles Francis Greville
Baron Franz Coelestin von Beroldingen of Hanover and the Palatinate
Countess Louisa ‘Lady’ Aylesford
General Nikolai Koksharov of St Petersburg
F N Ashcroft
Henry Ludlam (Heuland-Forster) Collection
Sir Arthur Russell
Smith and Key Collection
Looking for a specimen?
The mineral collection is being digitised
Collections on the move
We have set out on an ambitious programme to develop a new collections, science and digitisation centre. As we prepare for the move, access to some collections will be affected.