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Visit to the Natural History Museum, London

Last Updated: 19th Oct 2017

By Jolyon & Katya Ralph

This is a LIVE report, keep this page loaded for live updates - new images will appear as they are added.

I'm up today for a meeting later here at the museum, it's somewhere I have visited hundreds of times but I have never done a live report from here. So I will guide you round and show some highlights of what they have on display here.

The majority of the display collection is housed in beautiful Victorian display cases arranged systematically

A small section of the topaz case

Nice Russian topaz specimens

Blue apophyllite from japan

Larger pieces are in the side cabinets

25cm aragonite from Austria

Mike Rumsey, who's official title I can never remember but essentially is in charge of the mineral collections here. Will be meeting with him for a bigger chat and some behind the scenes live reporting later.

The galleries have just reopened after a long overdue spring clean. Specimens have been cleaned, rearranged and new bases have been introduced to improve visibility of specimens, a great improvement!

It was really quiet in here until just now, just been invaded by a horde of kids. I assume once all the Pokemon have been caught they'll go :) actually not reality it's good to observe how kids are really interested in the minerals and gems. This is a traditional museum display without animatronics or interaction. Maybe I'm old but I like it that way.

If you have any requests for me to photo while I'm here send me an email or Facebook message. Unfortunately I can't easily see message replies to this live report until I get home. Jolyon@mindat.org. Some Dioptase

Did anyone request Wegscheiderite? No probably not.

Super Urals malachite approx 15cm

Pyrosmalite? Pyrobigite more like. 20cm

Large Lepidolite boulder with rubellite? 60cm from Pala, California

"Wernerite" from Sweden with crystal faces highlighted

One of many calcite cabinets

Calcite from Yorkshire

Classic butterfly twin

More Cumbrian calcite

Calcite polished sphere from Iceland

"Satin spar" calcite from Alston, Cumbria

Allemontite from Canada

There are some cabinets dedicated to minerals from Britain.

Large cuprite

Wood tin


"Horse tooth" siderite from Wheal Maudlin. The theory goes that all of the pieces of this particular material in public and private collections may fit together to form half of a crystal filled vug split up during collecting in the 1800s

This is the other half. Maybe 35-40cm wide


View along the side

There are not many meteorites on display but this large piece presented in 1826 makes a nice display piece.

Copper wires coated with malachite

Boleite cubes from Broken Hill, NSW, Australia

Jordanite crystal from Switzerland, 6cm

Fluorite, etc from Cornwall

Pink fluorites

Atacamite crystals from Australia

The most valuable pieces are in 'the vault'

The Murchison snuff box

And description

Gems in the vault along with associated gem mineral specimens. Each is extremely well documented in the display.

The Medusa

Description. If only all museum displays had such well-written descriptive text

The Latrobe gold nugget, 717g, from the McIvor Mine, Victoria, Australia

The Devonshire emerald, 1384cts, Muzo, Colombia

The Aurora Collection of coloured diamonds.

Siderite 'box epimorph' from Virtuous Lady mine, Devon

Bournonite from Herodsfoot mine, Cornwall

Opal from Australia

Wire silver from Kongsberg, Norway

Gold specimens, unfortunately awaiting a label right now, except for bottom right which is from Hopes Nose, Devon

Back out into the main galleries for a few minutes

Wulfenite from Broken Hill, Australia

A younger Mike

Behind the scenes, reflected light imaging of new minerals, with Chris Stanley

Powder difractometers with nice crystal structure models behind

Mike Rumsey showing Miro Ng and his girlfriend a single crystal X-ray system

This article is linked to the following museum: Natural History Museum (London)

Article has been viewed at least 7839 times.


Thanks Jolyon! Good memories. Such a great collection and institution. DKJ

David K. Joyce
20th Jul 2016 1:01pm
Just wonderful. Thank you for sharing these.

Deborah Nickerson
20th Jul 2016 1:38pm
I would love to see more Beryls!

Martin Slama
20th Jul 2016 2:29pm
Great!!! How did I miss the vault?

Rob Woodside
20th Jul 2016 3:52pm
Jeez, it's been ages since I have last visited (with the MKA).
Time to plan a new visit!
Thanks for tempting us, Jolyon! ;-)

Cheers, Herwig

Herwig Pelckmans
20th Jul 2016 4:38pm
Spectacular virtual tour, a few months ago a friend of Granada, mineral collector was there and gave us a good story. Congratulations on the collection.

José Miguel Sola

Jose Miguel Sola Fdez.
20th Jul 2016 4:52pm
The place is fantastic. I visited it in 1981.
It's a pity to see so few people in the mineral hall today.

Great live report. Thanks Jolyon.

Paul De Bondt
20th Jul 2016 5:05pm
Thanks, Jolyon, for sharing with us.


Dan Costian
20th Jul 2016 10:50pm
Great report as usual, thanks Jolyon! i was here seeing Mike and other friends a few weeks ago, and was equally impressed with the Museum Volunteers (and Robyn, amongst others) who spent weeks diligently and carefully cleaning the display cabinets.
Its a truly wonderful place and one of my favourite galleries and buildings. :-)

Colleen Thomson
20th Jul 2016 11:02pm
Thanks Jolyon for this report!
"This is a traditional museum display without animatronics or interaction. Maybe I'm old but I like it that way." This words are speaking also for me.

Martin Rich
21st Jul 2016 11:20pm
Fantastic journey, thank You! Erdei Antal

Antal Erdei
22nd Jul 2016 2:21pm
I had admired the specimens at the museum during a number of visits, but that was a long time ago. It's nice to see some of them again. Nice photos, thanks for sharing them. But considering that the displays have been 'renewed' it's a bit surprising to see the locality for a dioptase specimen still given as "French Congo".

Peter Tarassoff

Peter Tarassoff
23rd Jul 2016 2:18am
A truly wonderful museum. Even better when I had you as a personal guide Jolyon and Mike showing me the back rooms. A memory I will long cherish. Thanks again

John Montgomery
23rd Jul 2016 7:17pm
Thank you for this visit to this remarkable institution

Jean-François Lanoë
23rd Jul 2016 10:17pm
The renewal might also have changed the name "allemontite" since it is no longer recognized.

Richard Gunter
28th Jul 2016 5:48pm
Really interesting article, and an excellent plus convenient way to enjoy some of those luscious samples and their stories, from afar.

Joel Dyer
29th Jul 2016 6:50am

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