Mineral sciences collection

This collection houses over 32,000 minerals, rocks, meteorites and tektites from all over the world.

The South Australian Museum's collection of opals is one of the fastest growing in the world, and houses the two most valuable known specimens of opal in the world - the Virgin Rainbow and the Fire of Australia.

Other strengths of this collection are undoubtedly the fine suites of specimens from South Australian localities. South Australia is famous for its copper mines, particularly Burra, Moonta and Wallaroo, and these are well represented in the collection. There are also collections from the Olympic Dam Copper-gold-uranium deposit, the Precambrian iron formations of the Middleback Ranges and a particularly fine assortment of quartz specimens from the White Rock Quarry in the Mount Lofty Ranges. Targeted field collecting and donations from amateur collectors have meant that the general coverage of species and localities from the state is constantly improving.

Temporary closure

The Natural Sciences Collections of the South Australian Museum will be reducing services from now (October 2023), leading to a complete closure from late November 2023.  The closure is expected to last until mid-2024.

The staff of the Natural Sciences collections need this time for essential audit work, which unfortunately means we can no longer offer normal levels of service.  Services we will not be able to offer during this closure include: visits to collections, new donation/accessions of specimens, new loan requests, new registration number requests, tissue requests, and destructive analysis requests.

We will still accept loan returns.  Visitors with pre-existing bookings will be honoured.

Services will resume when collection audits are completed.

Collections affected by this suspension of services include: Marine Invertebrates, Terrestrial Invertebrates (including Arachnology and Entomology), Ichthyology, Herpetology, Mammalogy, Ornithology, Australian Biological Tissue Collection, Australian Helminth Collection, Palaeontology, and Mineralogy.

If you have further questions, please email Collections@samuseum.sa.gov.au

Malacite in the South Australian Museum's collection


The minerals collection currently contains over 35,000 registered specimens, with the oldest specimens traced to 1865.

Meteorite in the South Australian Museum's collection


The Meteorite Collection has representative material from more than 150 Australian and overseas meteorites. Highlights of the collection include pieces from two Martian meteorites and the amino acid-bearing Murchison meteorite from Victoria. 

oval, teardrop and dumbell tektites


Tektites are small, glassy objects that are the result of a meteorite impact. The force of the impact melts the rocks on the Earth’s surface and this glass is splashed back up into the atmosphere, only to fall back down to Earth again.

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