Hall 1 - Mineral systematics: Elements, sulphides, sulphosalts
Special exhibition: "Evolution of minerals"
Since April 5, 2017, this exciting concept is part of the permanent exhibit at the Natural History Museum Vienna: objects that document the development of Earth in connection with 56 minerals illustrate the evolution of minerals in Hall 1.
Special temporary exhibition (until further notice): "Fool's Gold and Silverfish - The Names of Minerals"Curator: Vera M.F. Hammer
Fascinating and amazing stories about minerals, which were named after animals, and animals which were named after minerals
Some examples are the vanadium-bearing mineral corvusite which got its name from the common raven (Corvus corax); a riebeckite gneiss from Gloggnitz, in Lower Austria, with the translated name trout stone, because its texture recalls the fish scale dress of the brown trout; a variety of agate, called starling stone because it looks like the spotted plumage of the European starling. Some minerals show comparable patterns like animal skins and therefore have trade designations like dalmatian-jasper, zebra-stone, tiger-ore and leopard-skin-jasper. Further there are some optic effects, generated by inclusions, known as cat’s eye, tiger's eye and hawk's eye. Did you already know that the word serpentine derives from the Latin serpens for snake or that the red coloured kermesite got its name in allusion to kermes scale insects?
The name scolecite comes from the Greek skolec for worm, in reference to the mineral's reaction to the blowpipe flame.
This hall contains large mineral samples (in a glass cabinet in the middle of the room), a collection of building materials (samples) and the first part of the systematic mineral exhibit (continued in Halls 2-4).
The covering of the heating stoves preserved in their original state is of historical interest. They are situated in the two corners of the room away from the windows. (In times gone by, all the rooms of the Museum were heated by warm water stoves, which were appropriately covered. These are the two sole remaining stove covers).
The paintings on the walls depict the salt mines in Wieliczka (Hugo Charlemont), the diamond works in Kimberley (Othmar Brioschi), the Calvary Hill in the Adelsberger Grotte (Carl Hasch), gold mining in the Sierra Nevada in California (Wilhelm Bernatzik), and the lead mine in Raibl (Eduard v. Lichtenfels).
The systematized mineral collection (minerals classified according to their chemical composition and crystal structure; the classification is based on the internationally valid Ramdohr-Strunz and Strunz system) begins with the first table cabinet.
Particularly noteworthy in the mineral system (elements, sulphides and related chemical compounds) are the following:
Pieces of native silver from Joachimsthal (I/2); native gold from Eule (I/5); landsbergite from Moschellandsberg (I/8); sylvanite from Offenbanya (I/17); tetradymite from Ankogel (I/18); argentite from Joachimsthal (I/21 and 22); hessite from Botes (I/24), bornite from Froßnitz (I/24), millerite from Breitenau (I/63); sternbergite from Joachimstal (I/63); galenite from Gonderbach and Neudorf (I/66); stephanite (I/77); freieslebenite from Hiendelaencina (I/81); lorandite from Allchar (I/84), and hauerite from Kalinka and Raddusa (I/86).
Of particular note in Hall 1 is the halite sample from Wieliczka, displayed in the central cabinet, which is considered to be one of the best of its kind. Also on display in the central cabinet is a smoky quartz weighing 115 kg which was discovered in the Tiefen glacier, Switzerland, in 1868. It is one of the heaviest samples ever unearthed there. The Eisenblüte ("iron flower") from the Styrian Erzberg is considered to be one of the best examples of this type of mineral. Further, the calcite from Iceland ("Iceland spar") is probably one of the largest from this deposit in the possession of a museum.