Mineralogical collection

Minerals have fascinated mankind since the earliest times. Countless myths and legends surround the origin and significance of precious stones. In Greek mythology, for example, the transformation of divine tears of joy into shining emeralds, sparkling sapphires and gleaming opals is anchored, and in folk tales, metals and carbuncles are often of central importance to the plot - on moonlit nights, even common pebbles are good for showing the way home.

From the beginning of the Enlightenment to the present day, much of the mystery surrounding the world of minerals has been demystified by well-founded scientific research, but this objectification in no way diminishes the enormous attraction of minerals and crystals. Thus, the passion for collecting and the need to make particularly impressive exhibits accessible in exhibitions are still an expression of this passion.

The Chair of Resource Mineralogy also has an extensive collection of minerals, comprising around 8500 individual specimens. About 15% of these are exhibited in the show collection, strictly arranged according to Strunz's crystal-chemical mineral systematics. There, the exhibits vie for the attention of visitors, who range from interested laymen to geoscientific colleagues and schoolchildren. Protected behind thick display cabinets, many exhibits unfold their most beautiful attire as individual crystals, rich in form, with mirror-smooth surfaces and straight-as-an-arrow edges. Other mineral types, on the other hand, conceal themselves behind multi-coloured varieties and thus lead the viewer astray, such as deep quartz, represented as colourless rock crystal, brown smoky quartz, violet amethyst, yellow citrine, black morion, pale pink rose quartz and white milk quartz. Among the sulphide and oxide ore minerals, there is rivalry for brilliance and reflectivity, the halides compete in transparency and colour, silicates compete for the most spectacular growth forms. Only minerals that shine in competition have been mercilessly banned. Each exhibit, whether spiky or flat, colourless or opaque, shiny or matt, spherical or fibrous, reveals information about crystal-specific peculiarities such as chemical composition, type of bonding and crystal lattice as well as the nature of the crystallisation milieu, one more obvious, the other more latent. Just like in real life!

Extroverted mineral specimens that like to show their diagnostic features are accessible as practice specimens in the teaching collection. Students can scratch and rub, smell and (to a limited extent!) taste, weigh and compare them with simple aids, in other words learn and develop the art of mineral identification and systematic classification from scratch.

The majority of the historical collection pieces, however, eke out a quiet, unagitated existence in shady wooden drawers in the cellar depot, always ready to be presented to those interested in the reconstruction of historical mining activity who tirelessly hunt for them. Occasional handwritten original notes and bills of sale bear witness to mineral trade and material procurement from historically famous mineral sites of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, such as Schemnitz (Banská Štiavnica) in today's Slovakia, Felsőbánya (Baia Sprie) in Romania, Joachimsthal (Jáchymov) in the Czech Republic and Idrija in Slovenia.

In the course of time, the collection has been expanded through the integration of estates - particularly noteworthy is the legacy of Prof. Dr. Franz Dahlkamp, a well-known geologist who was primarily active in uranium exploration. In addition, there are gifts from passionate collectors and the targeted purchase of minerals, for example to fill gaps in the systematics or to meet the higher demand for training material due to the increasing number of students in the last 20 years.

So today the mineral inventory presents itself as a "colourful mixture" and delights students, staff and visitors time and again.