Explore the collection at Thames School of Mines

The majority of the objects held at Thames School of Mines are geological specimens, displayed within the Mineralogical Museum. This Museum was set up as a teaching and instructional museum for students at the School of Mines. The range of the collection includes standard specimens found throughout New Zealand to items from Antarctica and even outer space.

Ammonites Rostratusexpand/collapse

A number of the minerals displayed are rare.  Included in the collection are unusual architectural specimens using geological material from Pompeii and the Taj Mahal.  

The displays and original hand-written specimen cards themselves are a display of the history of museology, and are therefore worth preserving in their current state. 

Other significant areas of the collection include geological maps, library books, Thames School of Mines archival documents, and a local history collection.  The remainder of the collection is made up of mining tools and equipment, models, and teaching materials used in the School buildings.  

The collection within the School buildings shows the progression of educational, technological and scientific advances.  The objects in these buildings were used on a daily basis, and remain in-situ to provide a representation of how the school functioned, and reconnect the former uses of the objects and rooms with the pupils and teachers who worked here.


This fossilised ammonite represents one of the oldest items in the Heritage New Zealand’s collections.  At the least, it would be 65 million years old.  Ammonites were predatory, squid-like creatures which lived in the oceans between 240 and 65 million years ago.

Today, these creatures are known to exist only from their fossilised remains.  Their closest living relatives include the octopus, squid and nautilus.  The Roman natural philosopher Pliny the Elder named these fossils ammonis cornua after the Egyptian god Ammon (Amun).  Amun was typically depicted with ram’s horns, which is echoed in the distinctive coil shape of the fossil.

This specimen is from Cambridge, England, and is a sample of Upper Greensand, a sedimentary rock from the Cretaceous period (145 – 65 million years ago).  The characteristic coil shape and the chambers of the shell are clearly visible.

It is one of the many ancient items at the Thames School of Mines, whose collection contains hundreds of fossils and thousands of minerals from a range of periods and locations.

Please note that due to conservation reasons not all objects may be on public display at any one time. If you are interested in viewing an item, please contact the Property Manager.  

Heritage New Zealand manages its collection of historic objects in its properties from a central database.  You can find out more about the how the Heritage New Zealand collection is managed, including donating items on this website.

To see further highlights from the collection online, search for Thames School of Mines at New Zealand Museums