Lapworth Museum of Geology
The Lapworth Museum of Geology has the finest and most extensive collections of fossils, minerals and rocks in the West Midlands. Dating back to 1880, the museum is one of the oldest specialist geological museums in the UK. Throughout its long history the Lapworth Museum has provided a valuable resource for students, schools and colleges, research workers, enthusiasts and anyone with an interest in, or desire to learn, about geology. The museum supports teaching and research in the Earth Sciences and natural history within the University and the West Midlands region.
The Museum is named after Charles Lapworth, one of the most important and influential geologists in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, and the first Professor of Geology at Mason College, the forerunner of the University of Birmingham.
The entire collection of this museum is a Designated Collection of national importance.
Monday to Friday 9.00am - 5.00pm
Saturday & Sunday 2.00pm - 5.00pm
Closed: Bank Holidays, Christmas & Easter Period
The museum is located in the University of Birmingham's Grade II listed, Aston Webb Building, the museum retains its original Edwardian setting and interior.
The museum is open to the public and is also regularly used by schools, colleges, adult education and community groups as a teaching aid. Activities, including hands-on sessions and "behind the scenes" tours can be arranged to suit specific topics and requirements. Please contact the museum for details and booking.
Disabled parking is available outside the Museum, and there is horizontal access throughout.
The entire collection of the Lapworth Museum of Geology is a Designated Collection of national importance.
The Lapworth’s collection is one of the most important in the country. As well as outstanding geological specimens it includes important collections of scientific instruments, geological models, zoology, comparative anatomy, archaeology and photography and a unique and very extensive geological archive relating to influential geologists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, notably those of Charles Lapworth and Fred Shotton. Together these collections explain key advances and detail the resolution of a number of major geological controversies which drove scientific debate during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The Lapworth Museum of Geology is home to over 250,000 specimens and has one of the finest and most extensive collections of fossils, minerals and rocks in the Midlands In addition there are large and diverse collections of early geological maps, equipment, models, photographic material, and also zoological specimens and archaeological artifacts.
The fossil collections are important both scientifically and historically, with exceptionally well-preserved specimens from the Midlands and many other famous fossil localities in the UK, and throughout the world.
In particular the museum is home to many collections from the Wenlock Limestone of Dudley, famous for its fossils that lived 420 million years ago when when Central England lay beneath a tropical sea. Specimens from the Coseley coalfields reveal the time that humid swamps of ferns, fish, and giant dragonflies covered the Midlands. Fossilized footprints from Shropshire let you track some of the very earliest land animals.
From further afield there are beautifully preserved crustaceans, insects, fish and pterosaurs from the Solnhofen Limestone of Germany; outstanding collections of fossil fish including material from Italy, Lebanon, the USA and Brazil; and weird and wonderful animals from the world-famous Burgess Shale of British Columbia which show what life was like 510 million years ago.
Our mineral collections are similarly diverse, with around 15,000 specimens from all over the world. Many are rare, of scientific and historical importance, and display a stunning variety of colours and crystals.
The museum is named after Charles Lapworth, the first Professor of Geology at the University of Birmingham, one of the most influential geologists in the late 19th and early 20th Century. The Lapworth Archive, housed in the museum, is one of the most complete records of the work of a scientist of its time.
Other significant individuals whose work is archived include William Murdock, an engineer, inventor, and associate of James Watt and Matthew Boulton in the extraordinary Lunar Society of Birmingham; his historically important mineral collection is housed. Fred Shotton, a Professor of Geology at Birmingham who played a top secret role in the D-Day landings of 1944, assessing the geology of the Normandy beaches prior to the invasion of troops.
In addition material in the archive also tells the history of some other many amazing stories, such as how geology has affected industry in the UK and unusual items document some of nature’s great events, such as a ship captain’s report as his ship was sailing through the Krakatoa eruption of 1883.
Photography, Natural Sciences, Archives, Archaeology
Key artists and exhibits
- Palaeontology Collections:
- Carboniferous Flora and Fauna
- Wenlock Reef Fauna
- Graptolite Collection
- Vertebrate Collection
- Lower Palaeozoic Invertebrates of the Midlands and Welsh Borders
- Type and Figured Collection
- Mineralogy Collections:
- William Murdoch Collection
- McLean Mineral Collection
- Goodchild Mineral Collection
- Jasper-More Collection
- Map Collections:
- William Smith (1769-1839)
- George Bellas Greenough FRS FGS (1778-1855)
- John MacCulloch (1773-1835)
- Sir Roderick Murchison FRS, FGS (1792-1871)
- Historical Collections:
- The Sopwith Models
- Shaw Seismograph
- Priestley Collection
- Allport Collection
- Archive Collections:
- Lapworth Archive
- Wills & Shotton Archives
- Manuscript Maps
- Designated Collection
Lapworth Lecture Series
The Lapworth Lectures take place on certain evenings during University term time. These lectures on popular geological subjects are aimed at students, the general public and amateur enthusiasts.
All lectures take place at 5.00 pm in the Palaeontology Laboratory, Earth Sciences. Each lecture is followed by a wine reception in the Lapworth Museum; all are welcome!
Please refer to the Lapworth Museum website for a full list of guest speakers and dates.
Lapworth Museum of Geology
School of Earth Sciences
University of Birmingham
0121 414 7294
0121 414 6751
0121 414 4942