The Hall of Minerals, Earth and Space




The Yale Peabody Museum’s new permanent Hall of Minerals, Earth and Space, the only exhibition of its kind in Connecticut, is designed to foster an appreciation for the wonders of our planet and solar system.

This new permanent exhibition draws on the vast collections of the Yale Peabody Museum, and on the latest scientific research.


Earth and the Solar System

Start your journey through geologic history at the beginning of time, at the formation of the solar system and the earth, with rarely seen meteorites from our collections. You will be introduced to the processes that shape the earth — earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and collisions with meteors — and to global changes in the continents, oceans and atmosphere throughout geologic time. Exhibit highlights include pieces of Mars and Moon rock; constantly changing images and stories from NASA; the first recorded meteorite fall in the New World at Weston, Connecticut; and a 1,635 pound meteorite from Red River, Texas.


Geology and Earth Forces

What causes earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and can they be predicted or prevented? Why are these devastating natural hazards common in some parts of the globe, and absent from others? How do we know that the face of our planet has been changing for over 4.5 billion years, and will continue to change for billions more? Learn the answers to these questions through interactive exhibits on the forces that drive our dynamic planet:


  • A spectacular 4-foot globe that uses the latest satellite images to depict tectonic plates, the deepest ocean trenches, the most active volcanoes, the regions of greatest earthquake hazard, and the highest mountains.
  • The Magic Planet: a digital video globe that displays real-time weather and earthquake information and a dramatic animation of the shifting continents from today back 400 million years.

Atmospheres, Oceans and Climates

Our survival is inextricably linked to global interactions among the solid earth, its oceans, and its atmosphere. The latest scientific research shows that the rocks of the continents and ocean basins interact with our atmosphere and oceans to influence climate. These interactions are crucial for making the earth habitable for life.


In the Carboniferous Period several hundred million years ago, atmospheric oxygen levels were much higher, and invertebrates—as represented in the exhibition by life-size models of a dragonfly-like insect with a 3-foot wingspan and a 5-foot long millipede-like arthropod (shown here) —grew to immense size.


Learn that our entire planet was frozen over more than once, producing “snowball earth” environments.

Finally, there are the problems of present-day global change: Are human activities driving current environmental changes, or are natural causes responsible?


Connecticut—A Natural Geological Laboratory

Connecticut has a rich geological history, first studied by Professor Benjamin Silliman at Yale in the early 19th century.


The geologic history of southern New England goes back over a billion years to a time when algae and bacteria dominated the planet. Learn that the geologic jigsaw puzzle that is Connecticut was slowly assembled from great masses of continental crust, some ripped from what are today South America and Africa. A large interactive map of the state in the new gallery depicts the roots of ancient volcanoes and earthquake faults, together with other sites of interest, such as the active Moodus earthquake zone. These date back to when the mountains of Connecticut were as lofty as the high Himalaya, and bear silent witness to the violent geologic beginnings of New England. Spectacular Connecticut specimens, including the famous copper ore minerals of Bristol, emphasize the wealth of minerals in our own backyard.

Above: Garnet, the state mineral of Connecticut, from Roxbury.


The World of Minerals

The study of minerals has a long and distinguished history at Yale, beginning with Silliman and carried on by luminaries such as James Dwight Dana, the Yale professor generally acknowledged as the founder of modern mineralogy. View the wonders of the mineral kingdom—many with intriguing properties such as fluorescence, magnetism and radioactivity—in a dazzling array of specimens from the Peabody's priceless collections. Learn how minerals form and grow, why crystals have such alluring shapes and colors, and how to use practical skills of mineral identification on your own hikes and outdoor trips.

A special feature of the new gallery is a display of the spectacular gemstones and jewelry including objects from the Benjamin Zucker (Yale ’62) and Barbara Zucker Family Collection from the Museum’s Division of Mineralogy.

The earth we live on is a dynamic, ever-changing planet. Geologic forces operating over billions of years have shaped the earth we know, and our planet will continue to change for billions of years to come. Today, societies depend on the earth's vast mineral and energy resources, as well as on a habitable climate that allows life to flourish. Explore your world at the Peabody’s new Hall of Minerals, Earth and Space.