Key specimens from the Museum's Mineralogy Collection now accessible on line !
On the occasion of the International Year of Planet Earth, the National Museum of Natural History has just opened a Virtual Mineralogy Gallery, in partnership with Total.
This Internet mineralogy site, in both French and English, has been set up under the terms of a corporate philanthropy agreement between the Museum and Total and expresses their common desire to allow as many people as possible discover the splendid treasures contained in the Museum's Mineralogy Collection.
The Museum is home to one of the oldest and most prestigious mineralogy collections in the world, in terms of the number and quality of its samples as well as their scientific value. Thanks to a partnership with Total dating back to 1983, the Museum was able to acquire and add to its collection more than 750 mineral samples in 20 years.
The Virtual Mineralogy Gallery that opens today displays some 300 specimens, many of which have been acquired thanks to support from Total. The mineral samples, carefully selected by the curator of the Museum's Mineralogy Department for their scientific and historical importance as well as their aesthetic appeal, have been digitally recorded in high resolution mode so as to facilitate image recovery.
The different sections of the Virtual Gallery have been designed to foster a new way of observing and finding out more about minerals.
In this section of the site, visitors can surf through the mosaic of samples, load new photos and examine each specimen via photos taken from different angles. They can zoom in on the image, click on the details and even rotate some of the images through 180° or 360° to examine all the specimen's facets. By surfing from one sample to another visitors can appreciate the full diversity - colours, shapes and luminosity -- of the mineral world. Each specimen is accompanied by a general description indicating its origin and whether or not it is on physical display in the Mineralogy Gallery in the Paris Jardin des Plantes. In addition, there is a more detailed fact sheet giving full historical and scientific information. All information on the samples can be downloaded in PDF format.
The navigating paths within this section, designed like an index to the species presented, allow visitors to access specific information on each species and to quickly locate other minerals of the same species on display in the Virtual Gallery.
In addition to these two main sections of the site, a module called "What is a mineral?" provides a simple definition of mineralogy together with a number of scientific illustrations. Visitors will find information on the structure of minerals, their properties and how they are formed. They can even carry out practical experiments, such as making crystals of salt or sugar.
A special "News" section of the site will provide regular updates on the Museum's latest mineral acquisitions as well as details of exhibitions related to mineralogy.
And to make sure people interested in mineralogy follow up their tour of the virtual collection with a visit to the real Mineralogy Gallery in the Jardin des Plantes, the site provides full details of how to get there and what is on display.
The Virtual Mineralogy Gallery, housed within the Museum's web site, is a novel way to display the scientific heritage of which the institution is the custodian. Virtual displays of the Museum's other collections are expected to follow.
The Virtual Gallery is accessible at www.museum-mineral.com