The Geological Collections at the museum comprise mineral, fossil and rock specimens totalling approx. 16,000 items; of these the mineralogical collection is the greatest both in extent and significance.
The Royal Cornwall Museum’s collection of South West of England mineralogy is one of the finest in the world. At its heart is an outstanding early collection of minerals made by Philip Rashleigh (1729-1811), the most famous of Cornish mineral collectors, who lived at Menabilly, near Fowey. Rashleigh collected over 3000 mineral specimens and meticulously labelled and recorded them in his manuscript catalogue. The mineral collection formed by Mr James Wickett (acquired by the RIC in 1922) is another large collection; it is substantially Cornish in origin and additionally rich in specimens of cassiterite (a tin ore) from around the world. A collection of calcites from Wheal Wrey (acquired 1930) and donations from Richard Barstow (acquired over the period 1970-1982) make up valuable portions of the collection.
The palaeontology (fossil) collection contains approx. 2,000 specimens. It is a relatively small, but very varied collection, with material representing all periods of geological time, and from a wide geographical distribution.
The petrology (rock) collection contains approx. 500 items. Cornish granite building stones form a key part of the collection along with examples of rocks that can be found within Cornwall and the South West.
For Natural History enquiries please contact Sara Chambers, Curator of Natural History :
We endeavour to ensure that as much as possible from our collection is on view. However, there will always be times when a specific item you wish to see is not on display. Please contact us in advance and we will make sure that it is available to view