Explore All That Glitters at Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh

Explore All That Glitters at Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh

People know Carnegie Museum of Natural History for its dinosaurs (especially Dippy and the world’s first fossil of T. rex), but the must-see museum is filled with much more.

Did you know the minerals collection at Carnegie Museum of Natural History alone includes over 30,000 specimens representing roughly one-third of all known minerals? Plan a visit to the museum and explore the 1,300 mineral specimens that are on display in the internationally acclaimed Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems.  

Serpentine from Lancaster County | Photo Credit: Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Discover the Minerals of Pennsylvania

From coal for energy to graphite for pencils, many of the rocks and minerals found in Pennsylvania serve an economic purpose. The magnetite deposits in Cornwall, Lebanon County alone yielded 106 million tons of iron ore over 234 years from 1732–1973. Mining and quarrying activity has led to the discovery of some of the most significant mineral specimens in the state. Impressive Pennsylvania minerals on display include Malachite from Berks County, Calcite from York County, and Serpentine from Lancaster County.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History houses the most comprehensive collection of Pennsylvania minerals in the world.

Malachite from Berks County | Photo Credit: Carnegie Museum of Natural History

See Colorful Crystals from the Deccan Traps

A large display of vibrant minerals greets visitors at the entry to Hillman Hall. At first glance, these minerals don’t appear to have much in common. But in fact, they are all from a region in western India known as the Deccan Traps. So why do they look so different? The Deccan Traps are one of the largest volcanic features in the world. The shape, size, and color of these naturally occurring crystals were determined by factors like the chemical composition of molten rock, its temperature, and the amount of time it took to cool.

Admire Sparkly Gems in Wertz Gallery

Just beyond Hillman Hall, Wertz Gallery of Gems and Jewelry showcases natural minerals that have been crafted into jewelry, art, and gemstones. Find your birthstone, see lapidary art and examine beautifully made jewelry. There are approximately 500 pieces on display as part of the permanent collection.

Don’t miss the Treated and Synthetic Stones case, which features a piece of Manhattan Project glass.

Wander the Masterpiece Gallery

The Masterpiece Gallery is a breathtaking space filled with large mineral specimens. Highlights include rhodochrosite on tetrahedrite and pyrite specimen that stands out for its red and gold colors from the Sweet Home Mine in Alma, Park County, Colorado, and a 12.5 cm tall, 2.5-ounce specimen of leaf gold from Tuolumne County, California.

Look for another Pennsylvania mineral here: a specimen of Goethite, an iron oxide mineral common in Pennsylvania, from Fleetwood in Berks County, a well-known locality for the iridescent coloring that makes this piece stand out.

Geothite from Fleetwood in Berks County | Photo Credit: Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Learn Before You Visit

Some pre-trip reading and learning enrich the experience of exploring Hillman Hall and Wertz Gallery. Check out these videos and blogs from Carnegie Museum of Natural History researchers before your visit.

This blog was sponsored by Carnegie Museum of Natural History.