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Recent Activities -Ecole des Mines, Paris, France


The Ecole des Mines is a famous school of mines and, over the years, has acumulated a wonderful mineral collection. While in Paris, recently, I took the opportunity to visit this famous collection, La Musee de Mineralogie, which is housed, for the most part, in an old gallery, in old-fashioned wooden/glass cases. It is a museum reminiscent of the Natural History Museum in London, England. Perhaps a similar vintage? This Museum, founded in 1783 and existing in this building since 1815, emits a wonderful ambiance that harkens back to the "glory days" of mineralogy and mineralogical research. Unfortunately, the gallery relies on a combination of old fluorescent lights and daylight (from large windows) to illuminate the specimens and, unfortunately, this combination is lacking at times. Specimens are often not well lit and it is difficult to enjoy them in detail. Having said that, there are LOTS of great specimens on display, a small fraction of the 100,000 specimens housed in the Musee. I have tried my best to capture images of some of the more interesting specimens, NOT the more common species, necessarily, but the really cool pieces (in my opinion). I hope that you enjoy this little virtual visit.

This is a weird, if not classic, habit of alabandite from Broken Hill, Australia. It is about 30.0cm long! Sorry about the light glare from the window.

A wonderful specimen of anglesite from Mine Meretrice, New Caledonia. About 12.0cm across.

A couple of old-time fluorapatite crystals from the Grenville Geological Province in Canada. The crystal on the left is from Faraday Township, Ontario. The one on the right is from Sandy Creek, Pontiac Co., Quebec. The longer crystal is about 19.0cm long.

A choice specimen of bournonite from Germany. About 10.0cm across.

Brucite doesn't get much better than this! A great specimen from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA about 12.0cm across.

This view is typical of most of the gallery. Really very beautiful. Behind me are large windows that let in lots of light at certain times of day. The horizontal cabinets, in the centre, with the wooden covers, house light sensitive minerals.

The carved wood over the doorway into the mineral gallery.

A large crystal from a locality, the Strathcona Mine, Sudbury, Ontario that produced only a few such crystals. This v-shaped, lustrous twinned cubanite crystal is about 3.0 cm long. Quite something!

Some excellent crystals of this rare sulphosalt mineral on matrix from Lengenbach. The largest crystal ia around 25mm or so in length!

The Ecole des Mines, is housed in a wonderful old building at the south-east corner of the Jardin Luxembourg. Out hotel was close, so it was a very easy walk to visit the collection at this great old university.

After climbing a beautiful staircase (I'll show you that at the end, on the way out), you encounter this impressive entrance to the Musee de Mineralogie.

Here is a classic Canadian mineral in the Musee de Mineralogie -ferrierite from the type locality. The radiating crystal aggregates are about 15mm in diameter.

There is a whole case of superb fluorite specimens on display. I wish I could show them all!

An excellent orangey coloured, 8mm crystal of this rare cadmium sulphide is present in a vug in this matrix specimen from, I believe, Bishopton, Renfrewshire, Scotland.

Wonderful cubes of halite from Thuringia, Germany. Kind of looks like an interpenetrating twin but I don't think it is. The largest crystal is about 6.0cm on edge.

These are hauerite crystals! The octahedron in the middle is from Raddusa, Sicily and is about 4.5cm across.

A very nice, 7.0cm wide cluster of lustrous jamesonite crystals from Mexico.

Wow! A 30mm or so matlockite crystal in-on matrix. This is an amazing specimen. I did not write the locality down for this one but i believe it is a British piece. If anyone finds out differently, please let me know?

This is a rather fantastic example of molybdenite from an old Canadian Locality, Aldfield, Pontiac Co., Quebec. The molybdenite crystal is a tapered one that is about 70mm in greatest dimension. It was probably collected 100 years ago. Recently recovered specimens are up to perhaps 20mm in greatest dimension.

An exceptional old pyrargyrite specimen from the Harz Mountains, Germany. About 12.0cm across. It was probably collected over 100 years or so abo and so has lost all trace of redness, due to light exposure.

There is something wonderful and unique about these old German rhodochrosites. This one, from Nassau, Germany is about 11.0cm across. Classic!

Rutile crystals from Brazil. The larger crystal (65mm or so across) in this image appears partially water worn.

Another Canadian specimen a long way from home. This specimen from Silver Islet was probably collected 150 years or so ago. Great to see it! About 10.0cm across.

What great crystals on this oldy from Tsumeb. The semi-acicular (very steeep scalenohedra) crystal habit on these crystals is special. It is about 20.0cm across.

Of course there are many things to do in Paris! While there, we also visited other museums, art galleries, reataurants, gardens, etc. I think I'll just HAVE to go back again, some day. In the meantime, I hope that you enjoyed this little expose?!

These old German mochellandsbergites are really amazing! The crystal in this specimen is about 15mm across.

Well, that ends our visit to the Mineral Gallery at the Ecole des Mines. I'd love to visit again! This is the view as you descend the stairway from the Gallery.

Even the stair well is interesting! Have a look at the paneling on the way down? The bust is of French geologist Pierre-Marie Termier (1859-1930).

As you know, minerals like this are not my thing. However, I found these twinned crystals of thenardite, each about 30-35mm across to be fascinating. From the famous borax mining area in California.

This is one heck of a thorianite!! The biggest crystal, from Fort Dauphin, Madagascar is about 50mm across. I expect that it is rather radioactive!

What a display of large vivianite crystals! The big cluster is over 90.0 cm tall! The Cameroun locality was famous for these large crystals of course. I have never seen a better display of them.

Another Canadian ex-pat. This is a modest wardite specimen, from Rapi Creek, Yukon Territory, with the larger crystals at around 10mm in size.

Most of the old museums around the world seem to have some of these very large zircon crystals in feldspar from Kuehl Lake, Ontario. I recently visited the site and can tell you it is difficult to find such specimens now! This piece is about 30.0cm tall.

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