All photos, text & graphics copyrighted 2004 - John Veevaert

In July, 2004 I visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History located in downtown Los Angeles near the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.   In that building is found the mineral museum managed under the care of curator Dr. Anthony (Tony) Kampf.  My last visit to this museum was in the late 1970s so it was a real joyful trip down memory lane to see the specimens I had not seen since then.   I was met at the door by Dr. Kampf and was invited into the back room area to see some additional specimens and meet some of his staff - particularly Dorothy Ettensohn.   Tony had just returned from a trip to Brazil and was particularly proud of a remarkable crystalline gold specimen he obtained there.

Here's a schematic of the museum floor plan.


Here's Tony holding the large well crystallized gold specimen.
In the back are minerals not on public display which include
acquisitions Tony's made over the past 15 to 20 years for the Museum.

Tony also showed me a specimen that I found utterly fascinating - a beryl specimen with a moveable center!  Click the image below to see a 15 second mpg file with Tony moving the center crystal in and out of the outer crystal.  I liken it to a slide rule from my early college days pre-calculators.

The museum has a very fine systematic display with several hundred specimens and then an array of displays in the center with some higher quality specimens.  Also found are a number of educational displays related to mining, gem crystals, gem carvings, meteorite, the gold history of California, the geologic provinces of California and representative minerals, pegmatites and minerals found in them and a superb gem section.  There is a special display dedicated to gold - the official state mineral and benitoite - the official state gemstone. The following images reflect just a small percentage of what is there to see.

Here's the display on pegmatites and a reconstructed pocket from the
Himalaya mine complete with large tourmaline and quartz crystals.

This is an enormous specimen of elbaite on quartz from Brazil along with a cut stone.


Here's the incredible gold display.  There are thousands of ounces of gold on display as crystals and large nuggets!


The cases on the left side of the left photo are of the systematic
displays minerals. Those on the right side of the left photo and the photo on the
right are of the mineral classics with the systematic collection in the background.


Some minerals from the classic displays - cumengite and cuprite with malachite from Onganja.


In the section of Gem Carvings are found this display of crystalline and
faceted rhodochrosite from the Sweet Home mine in Colorado.


In the section on Gemstones and Their Orgins are found many fine displays both on the floor and the ceiling.


Near the entrance to the museum are found several displays of California minerals.
These two above are strinking from San Diego County - a large blue cap tourmaline
specimen (30+ cm) from the Tourmaline Queen mine in Pala and a very large
20+ cm morganite and quartz specimen from the Blue Lady mine.


The California Mineral & Mining Museum in Mariposa has a facsimile
of the actual gold specimen seen to the left. The card says it all.


Last and far from least is what is perhaps the finest or at least among the finest benitoite specimens known.
In my blue triangular dreams ...

If you are planning a trip to the Los Angeles area I would encourage you to plan a stop at this very fine museum.

For more information:
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Mineral Sciences
900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, California
phone:  213-763-3406

For an online experience offered by the museum click here

Return to Mineral Museums


The Firenze Mineral Museum
Florence, Italy
The Smithsonian Institution
Washington, DC
The Milan Museum of Natural History &
The Federico Pezzotta Elba Island Collection
The California Mining & Mineral Museum 
Mariposa, California
The Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
Los Angeles, California

Trinity Mineral Co Tsumeb Mineral Shows Mineral Books Mineral Auctions Mineral Museums Benitoite Mine Rare Minerals

All text, specimen images, and graphics are copyrighted © 2001-2006 - John Veevaert