The objects on view in Earth’s Treasures are the finest mineral specimens from the Ulster Museum’s collections and they have been selected for display because of their form and beauty.
They are either common minerals showing uncommon crystal perfection, or they are rare minerals exhibiting uncommon colour and form. They come from the British Isles and from many countries around the world.
Some of these display minerals are so rare they are found in only a few places in the world.
Earth’s Treasures has a case showing gem minerals in their natural state, accompanied by examples of their cut gemstones.
Image caption, Tourmaline crystal group, provenance unknown, from the Julius Hanna collection, purchased in 1926. Julius Hanna was a Belfast industrialist who made a fine collection of crystalline minerals.Click image to enlarge.
This exhibition is on display in area 20 of the Nature Zone and is free to attend (download the museum map, PDF 290KB).
More information about minerals
Minerals are the natural compounds that make up the rocks of the Earth’s crust. They are formed from combinations of chemical elements. Scientists have identified around 3,000 different minerals. Most of these are very rare, around 30 common minerals make up most of the Earth’s rocks.
Minerals do not usually look attractive and they do not usually form large or well developed crystals. However, occasionally in the rocks the conditions are right to develop beautiful forms.
Possibly there was a cavity in the rock which let crystals develop, or the pressure and heat combination in the rock stimulated crystal growth. The results of these processes are minerals showing attractive colours and crystal shapes. These are the types of mineral samples which are sought after by collectors and museums.