Albert Chapman - The Collection

The Albert Chapman mineral collection was purchased by the New South Wales Government in 1988.

The Albert Chapman Mineral Collection

The Albert Chapman Mineral Collection
Photographer: James King © Australian Museum

How was the collection acquired?

The Albert Chapman mineral collection was purchased by the New South Wales Government in 1988, with assistance from Conzinc Riotinto Australia, North Broken Hill and BHP. The collection was housed in the Geological and Mining ('Earth Exchange') Museum until its closure in late 1995. In December 1995 the New South Wales Government transferred care of this collection to the Australian Museum, where it is now on permanent display in a magnificent new exhibition which opened on 27 September 1996.

What is in the collection and why is it important?

This exceptional collection is renowned worldwide for its mineralogical diversity, crystal perfection, aesthetic appeal and high Australian content. The collection was featured in the Australia issue of Mineralogical Record in 1988.

Half the 820 specimens are Australian, with one quarter from Broken Hill, NSW. Many of these outstanding specimens (such as cerussite, smithsonite, rhodonite, pyromorphite, azurite, anglesite and spessartine) are the best ever found at Broken Hill and were photographed for the book Minerals of Broken Hill, published in 1985.

Other highlights include historical and irreplaceable heritage items from important mining regions such as Cobar ( azurite and malachite) and New England, NSW ( molybdenite, cassiterite, scheelite and fluorite); Cloncurry, Qld ( erythrite and copper); Dundas, Tasmania ( crocoite) and Moonta and Burra in South Australia ( atacamite, chalcopyrite and malachite). They are some of the finest crystallised minerals from all periods of Australia's mining history, from the 1840-50 and later. As such they are a unique part of Australia's cultural heritage.

Classic minerals from old European, African and American localities are also prominent, but there is world-wide coverage, with specimens from famous collections and with interesting pedigrees - such as topaz and quartz from Alabaschka, Ural Mountains; 'cog-wheel' bournonite from Cornwall; epidote from Austria and stibnite from Romania, some passed from one institution to another for over 100 years.

The Albert Chapman mineral collection is truly an Australian national treasure and a collection of international significance.

Ross Pogson , Collection Manager, Mineralogy
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