JMU Mineral Museum re-opens

Rare mineral collection sure to ‘wow’ visitors

JMU News

by Ginny Cramer

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Photo: Jeff Scovil, Scovil Photography

The James Madison University Mineral Museum is re-opening its doors and offering the public a first look at the extraordinary collection of mineral specimens in the Peter L. Via Collection. Very few people have seen the Collection, which though well-known within the minerology community was previously privately held. 

“For those who are familiar with the science of mineralogy you will see many things of interest; for those of you not so heavily invested in mineralogy you will see beauty, color, shape that you never dreamed possible coming from the earth,” said Lance Kearns, museum curator and retired JMU geology professor.

The Peter L. Via Collection, which has 378 individual specimens on display from 24 states and 39 countries, is one of four collections on display at the Mineral Museum, including a collection of fluorescent minerals. Overall, the museum holds more than 1,770 cataloged specimens from five different collections, including Via’s. It is home to the definitive Virginia Mineral Collection. 

Whether drawn by the crystallography and assemblages or the beauty of the gems, visitors will be able to experience the collection in the new, larger museum space. 

“This year marks 45 years since the opening of the Mineral Museum. In that time it has become an important destination for serious mineral enthusiasts and inspiration for the curious. We hope that everyone will come experience the wonder of this collection,” said JMU President Jonathan Alger.

Through the years the museum has worked closely with and been supported by active mineralogy societies including the Shenandoah Valley Gem and Mineral Society, the Gem and Mineral Society of Lynchburg, the Roanoke Valley Mineral and Gem Society, The Micro-mineralogist of the National Capital Area, the Mineralogical Society of the District of Columbia, the Northern Virginia Mineral Club,  the Gem, Lapidary and Mineral Society of Montgomery County, Maryland and the Southern Maryland Mineral Club.

Admission to the museum is free. Information on planning a visit, including location, parking, and tours, can be found at

For high quality photographs of museum mineral specimens please contact, Ginny Cramer,


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Published: Monday, November 1, 2021

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2023

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