Copiapó is a mining town that survives mostly on its rich silver deposits. However, silver is not the only item miners have dug up, as evinced by the city’s mineralogical museum.
This museum was set up by the Univerisity of Atacama during the mid-19th century. Since then, it has survived earthquakes, fires, floods, and of course the passing of time and multiple moves.
Nevertheless, the collection persevered, and its quality never diminished. Quite the opposite—the collection grew and expanded throughout its 150-year existence, becoming the largest collection of its kind in the country and one of the most complete in the world.
Boasting over 2,000 samples, the collection is a wonderful walk through the world of mineralogy, all set up in fancy black cases. The collection is ordered by crystalline structure, grouping together minerals that share a structure. This gives the visitor a good idea of which minerals are similar, even if they look different based on color and size. The museum also has a section where it shows the raw and refined versions of various minerals, ranging from iron to copper.
Know Before You Go
The museum is open daily throughout the week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entrance is free.