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photography by Taylor Dabney
Rhodochrosite, MnCO3 Nchwaning Mine, Kuruman District, Northern Cape Province, South Africa Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature, University of Richmond Museums Museum purchase, R1978.01.1543
Feb 03, 2021
throughDec 05, 2021

Crystals: Minerals from the Collection

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The University of Richmond Museums opens Crystals: Minerals from the Collection, on view in the Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature, February 3 through December 5, 2021. Crystals have fascinated and been desired for millennia. What is it about crystals that has us so enamored? Both science and history converge to inform us about many of the extraordinary aspects of crystals. The exhibition introduces the science of crystallography and mineralogy, while also considering the historical significance of crystals in cultural practices aesthetics and ideologies.

Crystals: Minerals from the Collection features more than seventy crystal specimens selected for their color, form, and distinction. Presented in a multicolored arrangement, visitors will see some of the most rare and exquisite crystals in the University of Richmond Museums’ permanent collection, including pearly Mexican selenite, wine-red South African rhodochrosite, and deep green Brazilian emerald. Near-perfect cubes of Spanish pyrite and English fluorite contrast with clusters of clear Arkansas quartz and grey blades of Japanese stibnite. Feather-light clumps of white tincalconite stand distinct from hefty metallic cubes of galena.

About the Exhibition

The exhibition has been developed to inform as well as inspire. Crystals: Minerals from the Collection presents the basics of mineral composition and crystallography, introducing the visitor to the fascinating world of minerals. The specimens presented include all major groups of minerals, and illustrate concepts of crystal systems, crystal habit and growth. These aspects of crystallography illuminate ways in which scientists can identify the type of crystal despite similar appearances.

This aesthetically stunning collection is grouped based on color, which is an atypical process of gathering crystals scientifically. By doing so, the visitor sees the wide spectrum of hues, textures, and shapes into which crystals can grow.

Organized by the University of Richmond Museums, the exhibition was curated by Matthew Houle, Curator of Museum Collections, and Martha Wright, Assistant Curator of Academic and Public Engagement, University Museums. The exhibition and programs are made possible in part with support from the University of Richmond’s Cultural Affairs Committee.


UR Museums are currently working to provide programs and resources online to support and supplement the exhibition.  Keep connected at for the most up-to-date information about programs, exhibitions, and announcements.