Mineralogy and Lithology
The minerals and meteorites on display recount the history of the Earth and the solar system. The designs, phantasmagoric colours and transparencies in the display case showing slices of agate and tourmaline arouse wonder and stimulate the imagination. From Brazil come the spectacular interlacements of long tourmaline crystals of various colours, associated with multi-coloured micas, white albite and quartz. A darkened cabinet houses the fluorescent minerals. The museum exhibits the most important collection of minerals from Elba Island, a true “mineralogical paradise” since Etruscan times. Two large specimens stand out: a 98 kg crystal of beryl variety aquamarine and a 151 kg crystal of yellow topaz.
The Medici collection of carved stones belongs to the oldest and most prestigious part of the mineralogical collections. There are the red and yellow jasper cups that belonged to Lorenzo il Magnifico, the two Ming jade cups in the form of a lotus flower, the boat-shaped vase carved from a single block of hyaline quartz (of Florentine manufacture and dating to the 1500s), the lapis lazuli bowl with the foot in the shape of a turtle (described by Vasari), an ebony table inlaid with jasper, chalcedony, agate, carnelian and lapis lazuli (also from the 16th century).
In addition to its aesthetic and historical-scientific aspects, the exhibition is designed to inform the visitor about the world of minerals also by means of films and innovative multimedia educational animations. After learning the basic mineralogical definitions and concepts, the visitor can discover the secrets of the formation of minerals and their properties, and know their technological uses and relationships with the environment. In addition, two large quartz specimens that can be touched by the visitor form part of a tactile route for the visually impaired.