Collecting Experience: Touring a Rock & Mineral Gallery

Jul 18, 2016

Taking a tour of a private collection or mineral gallery can be an excellent way to learn more about rocks and minerals. Whether you are seeking in-depth information on one particular species, or just looking to expand your general knowledge – who better to contact than other collectors?

Custom wood cases at the Dallas Petroleum Club with fine minerals and crystals When walking into the members-only Petroleum Club in downtown Dallas, a selection of fine minerals from Jim Gibbs's collection are prominently displayed.

Looking for a great place to start? Natural history museums and science centers are often excellent resources, offering accurate and detailed scientific information regarding the rocks and minerals in their collection. Many maintain their own full-time exhibits of rocks and minerals – and most of these are open to public viewing. Read up on some of our favorite mineral museums.

The rock and mineral gallery at your local educational institution can also be a rich source of information about local geology, resources, and collecting sites – as well as offer interesting specimens commonly discovered in your area. And, many larger collections (such as those displayed in the Geology or Natural History department of state or private universities) contain a wide array of rockhounding information and memorabilia.

These resources are generally developed and maintained specifically for the purposes of academic research and exploration – but most public institutions and universities are also open to receiving requests for private viewing, group, or individual tours of their rock and mineral gallery – especially for requestors who state a specific educational purpose for their visit.

Still, our favorite resources for learning about rocks and minerals are often the private collections of other collectors and enthusiasts. Many collectors tend to specialize, and with specialization comes a depth and breadth of knowledge which can be hard to find, elsewhere. It takes years to build a comprehensive collection of species or locale-specific specimens – so they've likely taken the time to learn all they can about their particular area of interest. Connect with your local Geological Society to meet other collectors who specialize in your geographic area, or ask your favorite dealer or source who they might recommend as a resource for your unique focus or interest.

Once you've located a promising collection, reach out! For public rock and mineral galleries, such as museums or science centers, information regarding viewing times can often be found on the website of the hosting organization or institution. The same goes for universities and other educational resources – though they may also list a formal process for requesting access to restricted specimens, or portions of their collection which are not displayed in their current exhibit.

Private collectors are generally more comfortable with a personal connection – so reach out, and be friendly. Have a mutual acquaintance introduce you, if possible – or, if not, simply explain your interest in their collection or specialization, and ask if they'd be willing to get together some time, and give you a tour of their favorite pieces. If you have a specific species, locale, or feature in mind, mention that, too – so there are no surprises when you meet. Most collectors are more than willing to connect with someone who shares their interests, and you may find that you have plenty to discuss – so make sure you arrange enough time to ask plenty of questions!

Cases of fine minerals on display at The Arkenstone Gallery of Fine Minerals

It should also be noted that your dealer or sales contact may be a great place to begin your exploration. Most reputable suppliers maintain their own rock and mineral gallery – and it can be filled to the brim with unique, high-quality rock and mineral specimens you may not stumble across in your other research. The Arkenstone's private collection is a great example. If you're interested in viewing a world-class collection of fine rocks and minerals, contact us at to schedule a tour of our private gallery – or click here to view some of the amazing array of specimens in our digital gallery.