The Mineralogical Record
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 Berlin [Humboldt] University
(1810-    )

The beginnings of the mineral collection of Humboldt University in Berlin go back to the establishment of the Berlin Mining Academy by the Prussian King Friedrich II in 1770. In 1781 the personal collection of Carl Abraham Gerhard, the first director of the Academy, was purchased for teaching purposes. By 1803 the quarters were becoming sufficient to accommodate the large collection of Russian minerals, which had been acquired from Czar Alexander I and moved to Berlin. Shortly thereafter, in 1805, the collection of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was also acquired, including specimens from his American journeys, and was installed in the palace of Prince Heinrich. Because of this overstocking of the royal mineral cabinet, the collection was moved to the Kunstkammer (Art chamber) until 1810, when the Royal Mineral Cabinet collection was handed over to the Berlin Academy of Science.

With the establishment of Berlin University in 1810 (renamed in 1828 as Friedrich Wilhelm University, and renamed yet again in 1949 as Humboldt University) all institutions in Berlin were combined. Consequently the Royal Mineral Cabinet was transferred from the Mining Academy to Berlin University. The collection was renamed the Mineralogical Museum, though initially the Mining and Metallurgical Engineering Department of the former mining academy retained joint ownership. The removal of the collections to the University took place in 1813, and the rapidly progressing development of mineralogy under C. S. Weiss and G. Rose led to strong growth of the collection. In 1873, with the appointment of M. Websky, a new building was planned for the collection. Websky's successor, C Klein, took over the Museum of Natural History in 1889-1890. Following the installation of the collection in the building which it occupies today, the dissolution of the geological-petrographic department and the complete organizational and spatial separation of the mineralogical-petrographic and the geological-paleontological museums took place.

In 1889 the donation of the large and comprehensive 14,000-specimen mineral collection of archduke Stephan Victor of Austria (1817 - 1867) was received from the widow of the industrialist C. Rumpff, who had purchased the collection a short time before. The most important acquisitions for the mineralogical museum in the following years resulted from collecting trips which were financed by means of a bequest from Dr. Friedrich Tamnau, particularly the journeys of curator A. Tenne in 1889 and 1891, including in 1894 a trip to Spain, and M. Belowsky's 1911 and 1913 trips to the United States.

The year 1899 saw the acquisition of the large mineral collection of A. V. Janson, the grandson of Friedrich Tamnau—14,000 specimens purchased for 150,000 Marks, of which 11,000 specimens went to the Museum of Natural History. During World War II the mineralogical collection suffered heavy bomb damage, but in the post-war years Paul Ramdohr and E. Fischer worked intensively on the restoration of the collection, and in 1954 the mineralogical exhibition hall was opened again. After an additional three-year reconstruction period beginning in 1985, including the installation of a new heating plant and, for the first time, a modern lighting system, the mineralogical exhibition was reopened once again. Under the current curator, G. Wappler, the collection has been enlarged even more, particularly through exchange and the purchase of specimens from the active mining districts in the Erzgebirge, Vogtland, Thüringer Wald and the Mansfeld district.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record -  Berlin [Humboldt] University 52 x 72 mm,
Label for a specimen acquired by Curator M. Belowsky on his 1913 trip to the United States, financed by a bequest from Dr. Friedrich Tamnau.
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