The collections comprise a total of about 150.000 catalogued objects (the effective number of pieces is of course considerably higher). About 15 % of the total inventory is on public display (in the case of the mineral collection it is even a fifth of the inventory).
The public displays are distributed among 5 large exhibition halls, numbered 1-5 (after entering the Museum, turn right and go up the stairs to hall 1).
The significance of the mineral collection of the Natural History Museum Vienna lies in their rich content of objects from occurrences within the former area of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy and of the Alps. However, the collection also represents many "classic" deposits of Germany, Russia, Great Britain, Italy and other countries.
Purchases of specimens on todays' broadly varied mineral market focus, taking into account the modest financial means available, mainly on Alpine-type mineral assemblage (Alps and comparable areas), selected pegmatite assemblages (e.g., Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal), new gemstones and semiprecious stones, as well as ornamental and synthetic material, and manipulated and fake jewelry. Also purchased are newly discovered meteorites and rare mineral species completing our systematic collection.
Science behind the scenes
The Department of Mineralogy and Petrography is also a place of scientific studies. Using high-tech instruments, it contributes to the analysis, determination and accurate documentation of minerals, gemstones, rocks and meteorites.
The instrumental equipment comprises an electron microprobe, a scanning electron microscope with analytical attachment (EDS, EBSD, CL), an X-ray powder diffractometer and a UV-VIS spectrometer.
The State Gem Institute is the port of call for certificates on gemstones (precious stones), including synthetic gem materials. The Institute also does basic gemmological research and provides beginners' education in gemmology. The lastest gemstones, precious and ornamental stones, and synthetic gems (imitations) are acquired for the collections, analysed and identified, and described.