The Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals presents hundreds of striking mineral-bearing specimens collected from around the world, including a giant topaz crystal from Brazil, a 4.5-ton block of azurite-malachite ore from Arizona, and a nephrite jade slab from Poland.
A sequence of cases on one side of the hall presents the system of classifying minerals based on chemical composition into classes such as native elements (minerals composed of single, uncombined elements such as native copper), oxides, silicates, and others, with examples displayed. Additional cases are devoted to esthetic minerals, large specimens, geodes, and microminerals.
At the center of the hall, one section depicts the chemical, physical, optical, and other properties of minerals, and another presents eight environments, some deep within the Earth and others near the surface, in which minerals form. The hall also features a display of California gold specimens, including crystallized gold, gold dust, and gold leaves from the Sierra Nevada range, as well as paraphernalia of mining and assaying from the 19th and early 20th centuries.