VIMS litotek fund is a unique collection of samples from more than 600 domestic and foreign deposits, most of which are already exhausted. This collection is public property which provides developing knowledge on conditions of formation, composition and technological features of mineral resources.

The start of collection of rock and mineral samples was made in 1904. Prominent Moscow entrepreneur, cloth supplier for the Russian army V.F.Arshinov (1854-1942) founded the first in Russia private research institute – pertrographic “Lithogaea” for his son Vladimir Vasilievich Arshinov (Graduate from Minerology Department of Moscow University, a student of V.I. Vernadsky).

In 1928 “Museum of mineral technology” was set in specially-equipped premises of 215 sq.m. in the new institute building (then Institute of Applied Mineralogy). The task of the museum was to exhibit all stone minerals that were researched by the institute, demonstrate schemes, charts and diagrams that showed all stages of mining and processing of minerals as well as specifics of domestic and foreign industry.

Glass cabinets, window displays and stands helped to demonstrate the efficiency of the complex approach to solution of geological and industrial tasks developed by the institute of N.M. Fedorovsky, starting with deposits and ore, going to enrichment process flows up to final products.

A big collection of rocks samples and their thin section was purchased by V.V. Arshinov in Germany at the famous firm of Kranz in 1905 (250 samples with petrographic thin sections); it formed the basis of the museum. The oldest sample of this collection is sample No. 665 which is molten rock from Vesuvius that disgorged in 1856; the first museum collection dates back to 1909 - the shungite collection of V.V. Arshinov.

First stone collection from domestic deposits appeared in the institute in 1911. It consists of rock samples from lake Turgoyak in Ural (251 samples) gathered by K.I. Viskont during geologic survey.

Collection No.3 dates back to 1917. It was gathered by E.A. Kuznetsov and reflects petrographic variety of rocks from Kyshtymsky deposit (Ural) which was suggested as commodity site for garnet extraction as abrasive by V.V. Arshinov.

At the institute there was “Minerals Bureau” that was set to form collections for educational institutions, exchange rocks from the collection with interested institutes, purchase required samples and sell excesses from duplicate collections. Activity of the museum and Minerals Bureau was highly appreciated by academic A.E. Fersman and many other famous specialists.

Systematic arrival of collection rock materials into the institute’s museum began in 1928 with the results of field work of the employees.

After the arrest of N.M. Fedorovsky and many other prominent workers of the institute in 1937 the activity of the museum was put on hold. In 1939 the room for “Museum of minerals technology” was occupied by the USSR GosGeolkom (later Ministry for Geology of the USSR) and VIMS. Part of the museum collection was transferred to the newly established Moscow State Geological Institute (MSGI). According to the preserved transfer deed, VIMS transferred 14 glass window displays with stands, models of drilling and mining installations, samples from mineral deposits of the USSR as well as samples from England, Canada, Germany, Italy (255.865 kg of just optical fluorite from Kuli-Kolon deposit (Tadjikistan) were transferred). In addition, products from pot stone, asbestos, graphite, tuff, casting from diabase, labradoritic bollards as well as bracket-like columns and bollards from revnev jasper that were taken out of the Temple of Christ the Saviour were also included in the transfer deed. Total number of transferred mineral and rock samples is estimated at 1059 units.

However, the biggest part of rock collection stayed in the institute and has been preserved to the present day. The rest of the rock material was placed in ill-equipped for collection storage basement room, the so called “litoteka”.

Later collections on completed objects were submitted to the litotek on a regular basis, except for 1941-1942 when the institute was in evacuation. In litotek collection there are rock materials on 30 types of mineral resources, VIMS employees are in charge of 15 of them as supervisors of the Ministry for natural resources. Abrasive samples, building-stones, copper etc. also found their place in litotek collection.

All the following years of VIMS existence litotek was supplemented constantly by collections of minerals, ore, rocks and products of technological processing of minerals that was gathered by the institute employees during field work and office studies of this material.

Having no suitable museum room, litotek employees organized various thematic exhibitions, went out to conferences and other scientific events with exhibits of ore, conducted systematic registration of exhibits and processing of sample collections. In late 1940s and in the beginning of 1950s sample collections of ore and uranium minerals were formed out of litotek funds. Later these collections were exhibited in Switzerland (Geneva) and India.

In 2007 VIMS administration raised money for restoration of a separate room for exhibition. On October 27, 2007 “Exhibition of industrial types of ore” was opened over an area of 260 sq.m. during the international conference “Mineral resource base of black, alloying and non-ferrous metals of Russia and CIS countries: problems and ways of development”. Extensive exhibition is the result of work of the whole staff and demonstrates ore, rock and mineral samples of leading industrial types of deposits Fe, Cr, Mn, Ti, Zr, Sn, W, Mo, Ta, Nb, Li, Cs, Be, Al, B, fluorspar, mica (muscovite, vermiculite). Ore samples from deposits are ordered according to geological and industrial classification GKZ on each unit which was approved by the regulation No. 37-2 of Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation dd. 06/05/2007.

Exposition of black, alloying, non-ferrous, rare metals and nonmetallic commodity was formed on the basis of geological and industrial classification and does not duplicate geological museums of Moscow and Saint-Petersburg.

Exhibition reflects the main principle of complex assessment method applied by N.M. Fedorovsky – examination of deposits starting with prospecting and exploration up to detailed analysis of mineral composition of ore, development of technological scheme of enrichment, processing of concentrates and economic evaluation of deposits.

Exposition opens with the gallery of portraits of various famous geologists, still working at the institute and former VIMS employees, who contributed to the identification of main sources of mineral commodity base of the country.

A little further on both sides of a large light hall more than 5 thousand samples can be found in 80 exhibition cabinets that illustrate the diversity of ore according to industrial types of deposits of solid ore and of industrial minerals.

Above cabinets exhibiting each element there is a big stand where ore areas are marked on the contour map of Russia. In the box metal reserves can be found according to geological and industrial type and their share in the stock. On the map deposits are marked, colour of the point under the name shows its belonging to geological and industrial type.

For separate types of commodity (manganese) there is a pie chart that characterizes stocks and mining of minerals according to the republic or region, share of the element in industrial type of mineral, histogram of metal content in ore according to genetic type of deposits, mining according to types of ore, dynamics of mining and import, number of types of ore in CIS countries’ stocks.

There is additional information provided in the form of a chart for some elements. For example, while characterizing alum ore the names of main bauxite deposits are provided with the mentioning of stocks, runoff Al2O3/SiO2 (silica modulus), and for main deposits of nephelinic commodity stocks and concentration of Al2O3 in ore.

Exposition according to a specific element starts with representative samples of most important minerals; labels to them give chemical formula of minerals, information on sampling area, author and year.

Ore samples from most important industrial deposits are placed in front of contour geological maps and quarries, diagrams and charts. Additional materials (samples, thin sections, products of technological ore processing) can be found in drawers underneath window displays.

This exposition allows visitors not only to get acquainted with the existing industrial types of deposits, but also to study new processing technologies of nontraditional sources of commodity.
Fund of thin sections gives the opportunity to evaluate the specifics of ore composition and their interrelation with host rock.

Available equipment – microscopes, binocular microscopes, luminescent lamps placed in the hall create conditions for work close to the exposition. Here one can get acquainted with the samples of processed ore and specific products for all types of minerals researched by VIMS. They come with specific technological schemes of ore processing.

Samples from litotek are usually viewed as standard, analysed; therefore litotek can be considered as the so called “data bank” – storage of geological and scientific information. Stone material characterizes surficial and deep horizons as it was gathered by VIMS employees while conducting exploration work that open ore bodies to their full.

VIMS litotek contains collections of mineral samples of numerous occurrences and deposits of the former USSR as well as industrial and potentially industrial deposits. A number of collections have historic value. A lot of them introduce unavailable foreign sites, others present already missing sites that disappeared because of mining of geological bodies.

New exhibits come nowadays from newly opened ore mining sites in the areas of Polar Urals, Siberia, Pacific Ocean (manganese nodules). A big team of institute employees – geologists, mineralogists, technologists, enrichment specialists, chemists, economists – work on the problem of examination and assessment of new minerals.

Geological samples are the only primary source of information about geological processes that happened on the Earth millions of years ago and that are still going on to the present day. No doubt that this exposition serves as help not only in the work of the institute, but is widely used in the education process on the base of branch of the department “Geology of Natural Resources Deposites” in RSGPU at VIMS.

It is irreplaceable for students, postgraduates and young specialists who only start to explore ore geology.

Over the years of institute activity the institute staff has discovered 125 new minerals that found their place in this exposition.

The most valuable and unique collections of litotek:

  1. Endogenous and exogenous bore deposits (438 samples - 10 collections);
  2. Uranium deposits of the former USSR— “Geneva collection” - 498 samples (collection of ore and uranium minerals) that was demonstrated at the first international conference on peaceful use of nuclear power in Geneva in 1955;
  3. Collection of luminescent minerals (No. 43) – 125 samples, 61 mineral types;
  4. Bauxite from geosynclinal and platform deposits of Russia and CIS – 700 samples;
  5. Ore-bearing carbonatite complexes of ultramafite, ijolite formation and of fenite and miascite formation – 1324 samples (25 collections);
  6. Rare-metal (Ta, Nb, TR, Hf, Zr, Sc, Li и др.) alkaline quartz albite and quartz albite microcline metasomatite – 893 samples (17 collections);
  7. Genetic and industrial types of beryl deposits of Russia and CIS countries – 1204 samples (44 collections);
  8. Metal ore from iron formations of Russia and CIS countries – 1842 samples (35 collections).

At the present day the total amount of stored objects in litotek surpasses 87 thousand units: 36 thousand samples and 41 thousand of thin sections and polished thin sections. The exchange fund comprises more than 11 thousand samples.

It has been 9 years since the opening of the exposition. Exhibition attendance and interest to it show that it was organized well-timed – there are still veterans (geologists, enrichment specialists, economists) who can pass down their experience to younger colleagues.

The exhibition of industrial types of ore constantly enriches exposition and maintains creative partnership with other institutions, enterprises, organizations and geological museums. Sample collections are used on a regular basis for conduction of unique researches with the help of the latest technical means.