terra mineralia

Link to the website of terra mineralia

A Mineralogical World Tour

Roughly 3,500 minerals are displayed in the terra mineralia exhibition in Freudenstein Castle, most of which originate from the Pohl-Ströher-Mineralienstiftung (mineral foundation). This comprehensive collection is arranged based on regional perspectives. In doing so, Dr POHL-STRÖHER successfully attempted to compile as many known types of mineral from one deposit as possible and document the most varied appearances of a mineral in forms and colours. When acquiring the minerals, she paid particular attention to the quality and aesthetic formation of the specimens in order to give the collection great visual appeal. The collection grew in a time when the stewards responsible for the Freiberg collection were limited in their opportunities to acquire top international specimens. In the GDR era there were neither the travel opportunities to participate in significant mineral sales fairs, nor the financial resources to purchase comparative material. As a result, this private collection represents an excellent addition to the scientifically valuable geoscientific collections of the Freiberg alma mater.

In order to preserve the fascinating character of the collection, it was decided to present a mineralogical world tour in the terra mineralia exhibition. The minerals are displayed in four large rooms, divided into continents. These rooms are now split into Europe, Africa, America and Asia with Australia. Within these continent rooms, the minerals are arranged by country and place of discovery. There are of course focal points here, resulting for one from the available current offer of each market and for another from private interest. The partial collections from Romania, the territory of the former Soviet Union, Namibia, Morocco and South Africa, India, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, the USA and predominantly China are particularly noteworthy.

One of the greatest wishes of the founder was to use her initiated exhibition to interest young people over all others in the beauties of nature and the natural sciences. To do this, 'detours' from the mineralogical world tour were introduced, where the visitors embark on a tour of discovery and can learn more. The world tour begins on the observation platform. After an introductory film discussing the basics of mineralogy, such as the formation of the Earth and the identification and use of minerals, visitors have the opportunity to fly to 25 of the most famous mineral sources on jumbo screens with Google Earth. In another area, the significance of certain minerals and their uses in the production of high-tech materials is demonstrated. In the America room, visitors can take a trip 'into the light'. A wide range of minerals are subjected to UV radiation of various wavelengths in order to trigger luminescence. Just as Gulliver travelled into the land of giants and the land of dwarves, in the Asia room visitors can travel into different dimensions. This area has a special focus on fluorite. In a 'geode passage', visitors can experience how miners discover the hollows lined with these magnificent crystals underground. In a three-dimensional projection, visitors can walk from the outer surface of a fluorite crystal right into the crystal structure - in the true sense of the word: an accessible fluorite model allows visitors to experience the atomic dimensions. There is even more to discover from expeditions. Both experts and laypeople can use microscopes to embark on voyages of discovery. There is even a scanning electron microscope available for visitors to experience magnifications of over 1000 times. With prior notice, even the elementary compositions of visitors' own mineral discoveries can be examined. The expedition also allows school classes and other groups to attend courses on mineral or rock identification. The exterior properties of the minerals can be identified and photos can be taken. A small but excellent library and online computer are there to answer questions arising during the tour of the exhibition. New programmes are constantly being developed on specific topics which are then offered to school classes as an educational supplement and which are designed to prompt parents and grandparents to visit the exhibition with their children during the holidays. The Europe room explains the formation of the minerals on metre-long illuminated panels on the fronts of the display cases. In particular, these use graphic depictions to present the areas where the minerals of interest to collectors form. Such areas include hydrothermal veins, alpino-type clefts, skarns and pegmatites. As part of a journey through time, the Africa room highlights that the significance and use of minerals have constantly changed over the course of human history in light of far-reaching discoveries and the development of society. In addition to this journey through time, the minerals in the Africa room are also arranged by the regions in which they were discovered. In five display cases, visitors can view the regions of discovery with the aid of relief maps. The tour is rounded off by a visit to the treasure room where large specimens, gemstones and meteorites are on display.