The Mineralogical and Geological Museum at Harvard University (MGMH) holds vast geological collections that have been assembled since the late eighteenth century. They are a legacy of vigorous research and teaching in various fields of geology including mineralogy, petrology, and mining geology.
The museum serves as a repository for more than 400,000 specimens of minerals, rocks, meteorites, and gems. follwing the priciples laid out in our Collections Management Policy, available for review below.
The museum organizes specimens into four distinct research collections: minerals, gems, rocks and ores, and meteorites.
The mineral collection consists of more than 100,000 specimens and ranks as one of the world’s finest due to its broad representation, wealth in rare species, large number of specimens described in scientific literature, and the quality of its specimens. The rock and ore collection holds more than 200,000 specimens as a result of active faculty and student research; this collection is rare and unique because some of the ore bodies have been mined out and many of the mines are now closed. The meteorite collection contains a largely comprehensive group of meteorites, with nearly 600 distinct meteorites, and about 1,500 specimens. Included within this collection is a small ancillary assemblage of impactites and tektites. Finally, the gem collection, mainly used for research and display, consists of more than 1,000 specimens with special focus on New England gems.
Samples range from display to reference quality and represent a broad range of species and localities from around the globe. Particular strengths of the collection encompass material from the New England region and over two hundred type mineral specimens.
Although fossils are critically important geological specimens, at Harvard University they are housed with the biological collections. Fossil plants are held by the Harvard Herbaria and fossil animals are held by the Museum of Comparative Zoology.
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