The Mineralogical Museum of the St.-Petersburg State University is housed in the building of the 'Twelve Colleges'. It accomodates some of the most ancient mineralogical collections of Russia. The university mineral collection took its origin from a Mineralogical Cabinet of a Teacher's Seminary, which was established in 1783. J.G. Georgi (1729-1802) was commissioned to collect minerals for the institute and he can be considered the founder of the museum. The history of enlarging and enriching the mineral collection is inextricably related with 19th century celebrities and their private collections. At the beginning of the 19th century, when the Seminary was transformed into a Pedagogical Institute, the collection of the Mineralogical Cabinet included in total no less than 912 specimens of rocks and minerals. The first decade of the 19th century was marked by significant acquisitions: in 1804 Academician V.M. Severgin (1765-1826) donated his mineral collection; in 1805 the A. Crichton mineral cabinet was bought; and in 1807 P.I. Meder (1769-1826) presented a large collection including 7500 mineral specimens. In 1819, the Pedagogical Institute was reorganized into the Saint-Petersburg Imperial University under a decree of Emperor Alexander I. Professor E.K. Hofmann (1801-1871) managed the Mineralogical Department and the Mineralogical Cabinet from 1845 to 1863. During his directorate the mineralogical collection continually increased. In 1851, he donated 165 mineral specimens from his private collection, which included rare and fine minerals from the Urals. Later, the University acquired the Hofmann collection (914 specimens, 23 of which are on permanent display) from his family. From 1871 to 1880, M.V. Erofeev (1839-1888) managed the Mineralogical Department and developed the Mineralogical Cabinet. In 1874, the cabinet procured a superb collection of minerals from Siberia and the Urals (c. 1000 specimens), which was bequeathed to the St. Petersburg University by Archbishop Nil (1796-1874). Today, Nil's collection includes 468 specimens from Russian deposits of Transbaikalia, East Siberia and the Urals, and some foreign localities. The Erofeev collection (1200 specimens) came to the St.-Petersburg University in 1889. At present it includes over 320 specimens from the Urals, Saxony, Hungary, North America, and some other countries. In 1889, the "GazbergSpitsin" collection came to the Museum, including 1476 specimens from the Urals. In 1909, D.I. Mendeleev's (1834-1907) mineral collection was purchased, consisting of 245 specimens, several of which are on display. Thus, at the beginning of the 20th century the museum consisted of 12,600 specimens from private collections. They constituted about 70% of the museum's assets. The role of private persons in the formation of museum collections was predominant in the 19th century. All mentioned collections are carefully kept at the Mineralogical Museum of the St.-Petersburg State University and it is planned to show some of them in new displays.

Scripta Geologica. Special Issue

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Naturalis journals & series

Anastasenko, G. F., Krivovichev, V. G., & Golynskaya, O. A. (2004). [Proceedings of the VII international symposium 'Cultural heritage in geosciences, mining and metallurgy : libraries, archives, museums' : "Museums and their collections" held at the Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum Leiden (The Netherlands), 19-23 May, 2003 / Cor F. Winkler Prins and Stephen K. Donovan (editors)]: Die privaten Kollektionen des XIX. Jahrhunderts in der Sammlung des Mineralogischen Museums der Universität St. Petersburg, Russland. Scripta Geologica. Special Issue, 4(3), 7–13.