Exposition Secrets de la Terre

Secrets from the Earth

Temporary exhibition

From 24 June 2022 to 03 November 2024

Venture deep into the Earth’s foundations and discover the wonder of the mineral wealth that our planet harbours.

We might not always be aware of it, but minerals are all around us: stone is used to build our homes; metal to make coins and machinery; rocks, such as coal, are harnessed to generate energy; and soil, ores and salts power our industries. Between the history of civilisations and that, as old as time itself, of mineral formation, the exhibition delves into the physical and chemical properties of minerals and their uses through the centuries, since prehistoric times.

There is much at stake in light of the scarcity of such resources today. New discoveries could help shape a future that is more respectful of the environment and of living creatures as a whole – but the challenge that lies ahead is a daunting one.

This exhibition is a recognised "Year of Mineralogy 2022" event.

The collection of minerals

With a treasure trove of nearly 10,000 items and ranked among the great French public collections, this exhibition gives pride of place to the museum’s collection of minerals.

The exhibition route


How minerals form and their properties

Minerals have been part of the Earth’s foundations, right up to its surface, for as long as our planet has existed. Formed under the extreme temperatures and pressure in its deepest layers, then shaped by erosion, they play an instrumental role in the development of life: everything that grows is reliant on mineral substances.

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Exposition Secrets de la Terre

History of mineral exploitation

Extraction, whether through mining or quarrying, has developed in step with the changes taking place in our societies. We extract minerals for their colours, to craft our tools, make weapons or build our homes.

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Exposition Secrets de la Terre

The museum’s azurites and fluorites

The collection is internationally acclaimed for these two types of minerals. Just 15 miles or so from Lyon, the Chessy and Saint-Bel mines are associated with a blue copper carbonate mineral called azurite, some of the world’s finest specimens of which can be found here in this very museum. Harbouring over 1,500 pieces, the fluorite collection comes in large part from those once owned by the French geological engineer Alexis Chermette.

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Exposition Secrets de la Terre