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Marion, Kentucky

Ben E. Clement Mineral Museum

Thousands of unique minerals, including some of the most impressive fluorite crystals in the world.  

A rock lover’s dream, this little-known museum is home to thousands of glittering specimens, many coming from the Illinois-Kentucky Fluorspar Mining district, which is renowned for its unique minerals.

The mineral museum includes one of the world’s most impressive collections of fluorspar (also called fluorite), a naturally colorful crystal that used to be very popular for jewelry. Some of the gems are displayed in a space called the “Wow Room” because of the delighted reactions it elicits from visitors. Another room displays rocks glowing in colorful neon under a black light. On the more whimsical side, there’s a rock that resembles Robert Smith from The Cure.

Most of the minerals came from Ben E. Clement, a miner that arrived in Kentucky in the early 20th century dreaming of operating his own fluorspar business. The minerals produced from his mines served the region’s booming steel industry. Clement later turned his focus toward supplying private collectors with fluorspar and other minerals. He himself had his own impressive collection, which he later turned into a museum.

Clement continued amassing more minerals up until his death in 1980. Now, his namesake museum holds his many, many rocks, as well as letters, photographs, and mining equipment. From April to October, the museum also hosts monthly digs, where visitors can scour the earth in hopes of finding their own magnificent mineral.

Know Before You Go

There's a lot of free parking.