Friday 1 March 2013

Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street, first floor

Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street, first floor, showing the galleries and specimen cases
BGS image: P640479
The Survey had a museum from as early as 1841 at Craig’s Court, London, known as the Museum of Economic Geology. Its name reflects the nature of the collections. It housed a large number of specimens of building stones collected by the Commissioners appointed to find the most suitable stone for the new Houses of Parliament, as well as collections of cements, tiles, pottery and other man-made goods from natural stone materials. The collections and the Geological Survey soon outgrew Craig’s Court and a new Museum, the Museum of Practical Geology, was opened in Jermyn Street, London with a grand ceremony on 12th May 1851. The entrance was by all accounts very gloomy, and it led via stairs to the galleries shown in the picture with their neatly stacked shelves of rocks, minerals, ores, gems, fossils and economic exhibits. The museum also had a tiered lecture theatre reputedly capable of holding as many as six hundred people, where regular ‘penny lectures’ were given. The museum had a long life, eventually being replaced by the Geological Museum in Exhibition Road in 1935.

Bob McIntosh

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