Whewell Mineral Gallery

Explore the mineral world in its colourful diversity in the Whewell Mineral Gallery, which displays some of the finest specimens from our collection of more than 40,000 minerals and gemstones from around the world. The gallery is named after William Whewell (1794-1866). He was the third Professor of Mineralogy at the University of Cambridge, a brilliant Victorian scientist and philosopher of science. The minerals are displayed by chemical group, and mixed with scientific information about their chemistry and structure, as well as general knowledge about their use.


These delicate crystals were found in Westmoreland and are formed of a common, naturally occurring, calcium carbonate mineral called aragonite, which is often found in limestone caves and low-temperature ore deposits. Aragonite is not as common as calcite, a related calcium carbonate mineral, which is chemically more stable. The name aragonite comes from the Spanish village of Molina de Aragon and was coined in 1797 by the famous German mineralogist and geologist Abraham Gottlieb Werner (1749-1817).

The calcium carbonate mineral calcite is one of the most common minerals on Earth’s surface. It occurs naturally in many forms from beautiful water-clear crystals to massive milky coloured lumps and many situations from shells and invertebrate skeletons to limestone and marble. The name was coined by the Roman naturalist, Pliny the Elder (AD 23 – AD 79) and is formed from the Latin ‘caix’ meaning ‘lime’. 

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