Item of the Month: October 2017

Silicified tree. J. C. W. Voigt's collection of minerals. Brown coal.

This silicified tree was part of the very first collection purchased for the museum, which arrived in Tartu in the spring of 1803. Soon after the university’s reopening in 1802, the Natural History Cabinet started to receive research collections as purchases as well as donations. For example, Johann Carl Wilhelm Voigt (1752–1821), mines supervisor of the Duchy of Saxe-Weimar and one of the most notable geologists of his time, offered to sell his collection of minerals, of which the museum selected a total of 1920 items.

His collection, consisting of specimens gathered from the Weimar region, comprised almost all minerals that were known to scientists at the time. Voigt's collection of minerals was so large that it could no longer be accommodated on the museum's premises – at the time Director Germann's home – and a dedicated room was leased in the so-called von Bock house in Ülikooli Street.

Voigt's collection is described already in the museum's first inventory and many specimens still retain their old labels. Today, this collection can be easily accessed via the Estonian geological collections’ database SARV at

The project is curated by Inge Kukk.
The project is supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.