(full name, A. E. Fersman Mineralogical Museum of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR), one of the oldest institutions engaged in gathering, classifying, storing, and displaying mineral collections; it also conducts scientific and pedagogical work and disseminates information on mineralogy. Located in Moscow, the museum is a part of the Division of Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry of the Earth Sciences Section of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.
In accordance with a ukase issued by Peter I in 1714, the Mineralogical Museum was established in 1716 as the Mineral Exhibit of the Kunstkamera. The collection, which initially contained 1,200 samples of minerals and ores, grew rapidly during the 18th century (by the beginning of the 19th century there were 20,000 samples), with the acquisition of private mineral and ore collections from the Berg-Kollegiia (Collegium of Mines). Also acquired during this period were items gathered by major expeditions of the Academy of Sciences, which explored Siberia, the Altai, Kamchatka, the Urals, the Caucasus, and other regions of Russia.
In 1836 the Mineral Exhibit became an independent institution and was renamed the Mineralogical Museum. In 1898 the museum and the other geological collections of the Academy of Sciences were reorganized into one museum, the Peter the Great Geological and Mineralogical Museum. In 1904 the mineralogical department of the museum was directed by V. I. Vernadskii, who, together with his students (A. E. Fersman, V. I. Kryzhanovskii, and others), organized scientific and museum work.
After the October Revolution of 1917 the Mineralogical Museum was given the opportunity to develop as an independent scientific institution. In 1919, A. E. Fersman became the head of the museum and geared its activity to meet the needs of the national economy. Large expeditions were organized to explore and carry out scientific and practical studies of minerals and substances extracted on the Kola Peninsula and in the Middle Asian republics, Siberia, the Urals, and other regions.
In 1930 the Lomonosov Institute of Mineralogy, Geochemistry, and Crystallography of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR replaced the Mineralogical Museum, and in 1934–35 the museum and other institutions of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR were moved from Leningrad to Moscow. In 1946 the Mineralogical Museum again became an independent institution; in 1955 it was named in honor of Academician A. E. Fersman.
The museum’s collection contains approximately 130,000 samples of minerals found in the USSR and abroad. They represent 2,500 mineral species and varieties. Permanent exhibits on various topics have been established and are periodically updated at the Mineralogical Museum. Among the exhibits are those on the classification and history of mineral species in the earth’s crust, the mineralogy of the chemical elements of the earth, the mineralogy of the genetic processes of formation of mineral deposits, and the mineral composition, structure, and origin of meteorites.
The Mineralogical Museum organizes field trips, lectures, scientific readings, and reports on special subjects for college and secondary school students and for specialists in the geochemical sciences. It helps assemble various collections for higher educational institutions, technicums, secondary schools, specialized institutes, and museums. The museum also offers consultation and provides necessary information for scientific, applied, and technological research. Practical scientific research on precious and semiprecious gems and other minerals is carried out, as is theoretical research concerning the origin and properties of minerals. Since 1949 the Mineralogical Museum has annually published Trudy (Transactions). The 16th and all subsequent issues of the publication are entitled Novye dannye o mineralakh CCCR (New Data on the Minerals of the USSR).
G. P. BARSANOV