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Terra Mineralia

From: Freiberg, Saxony

Terra Mineralia Freiberg

ABOVE: Display cases in Terra Mineralia, with Freundenstein Castle's columns and vaulted ceiling as a backdrop. INSET BELOW: The museum entrance, the castle courtyard, and a mineral sample.

Terra Mineralia FreibergIn the early 2000s, Dr. Erika Pohl-Ströher--an 88-year-old cosmetics heiress who lived in Switzerland--was looking for a way to keep her vast collection of minerals intact for future generations to enjoy. Harvard University wanted to buy the more than 3,500 minerals, gemstones, and meteorites that she had assembled over six decades, and Dr. Pohl was on the verge of accepting the offer.

Luckily for the town of Freiberg in Dr. Pohl's native Saxony, George Unland--Saxony's finance minister, and a former rector of the Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg--came up with an alternative proposal: Dr. Pohl would make a permanent loan of her collection to the TU-Bergakademie, which would ensure that the minerals were "reasonably accommodated."

Schloss FreudensteinAfter a search, a new home was found for the collection in Schloss Freudenstein, a crumbling castle on the edge of Freiberg's city center. The Schloss was renovated, with the mineral exhibition being given three floors and a new entrance in the castle courtyard.  Terra Mineralia opened in 2004 as one the largest and most modern museums of its kind in the world.

What you'll see:

Mineral sample at Terra MineraliaTerra Mineralia is a collection of more than 3,500 objects that range from geodes to gems to meteorites. The exhibition is designed as a "mineralogical journey around the world," with visitors moving from continent to continent as they explore the collection.

The museum also has exhibits on the cultural role of gems, minerals in everyday life, and the science behind the color and appearance of minerals and gemstones.

When to visit:

Terra Mineralia is open daily (except for a handful of holidays). Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The museum recommends allowing two to three hours for your visit, although you can enjoy the high points in an hour or less.

Guided tours are available. For detailed visitor information, see the museum's bilingual Web site at www.terra-mineralia.de. For pictures of the collection, go to page 2 of this article.

Next page: Photos from Terra Mineralia


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Photo (c) iStockphoto.com/Robin Ahle

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