You may have visited a museum in your childhood or even as an adult. So the mention of the name museum makes you see a building full of old stuff. But, what are mining museums? I know what you think. That it’s a museum that preserves artifacts about mining.
That’s absolutely correct. This article talks about mining museums and gives a list of the best museums to visit. As you may already know that a mine is a facility for extracting minerals underground, it can have three phases. These are the running phase, closed phase, and a working museum.
When a mine is no longer producing it is closed. Mostly, it’s partially filled up for safety. Nevertheless, many countries make these sites accessible by visitors. Probably, because they want to generate more income from them once they become non-mineral productive.
Countries establish mining museums immediately mining ceases.
A mining museum aims to provide educational exhibits to visitors. When you visit it, you will find it fixed with structures that were not there during mining. They provide miners lamps and some sophisticated mines will have electric lights and authentic guided tours.
If you are a true adventurer, a mining museum is a place worth visiting. You will get to use preserved pit railways to take you deep down into the mine. But do you know any mining museum to visit? Here are the fascinating mining museums you can visit.
Big Pit National Coal Museum
Big Pit National Coal Museum opened doors in 1983 in Blaenavon, Wales. It is a commemoration of Welsh coal mining legacy that occurred during the industrial revolution. The coal mine was in operation precisely between 1880 to 1980.
The Big Pit—from which the museum derived its name, was a charitable trust that converted the coal mine into a heritage museum. It performed several upgrades over the years to make Bit Pit National Museum what it is today.
Stay with me to learn the intriguing attraction in this museum. Firstly, it features several above-ground attractions. They include a sawmill, a winding house, pitheads, and baths. Therefore, for visitors who don’t want to take risks—families with kids, they can enjoy views of such features.
The most interesting thing is to travel to the pit bottom through the cages that the miners could use to travel to their work. This is the part of the adventurers. This underground tour helps you feel the industry that was a powerhouse during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Before the journey to the underground, here is what you must carry:
A plastic hat (hard)
A safety lamp
A heavy battery on a waist-belt
A rebreather that can supply air for approximately one hour in case of an emergency
With the above items, you will be ready to take a 90 meters-tour underground, an exercise that will take you about 50 minutes. Now, this is important to note while you embark on your tour. The dangers of a mine are real. This is not to scare you but you need to be aware of this fact.
In fact, in every mining museum, you will find posters all over cautioning the stages of carbon monoxide poisoning. Nonetheless, there are automatic gas monitoring systems and emergency telephone systems positioned around the tunnels.
This museum opens at 10.00-15.30 daily, February to November. During holidays and also for January and December, you should check their website before you visit.
World Museum of Mining
The famous World Museum of Mining is situated in Butte Montana, United States. It opened in July 1965 intending to preserve some neglected segment of American history. In the past, the site was a silver and zinc mine known as Orphan Girl. Apart from its over 13,000 specimens it displays, it is an exhibit of America mining history.
Copper, zinc and manganese ores mined at World of Museum of Mining site, was known to transform Butte into the richest hill on earth.
When you visit this site, you get the opportunity to explore over 50 structures that are more than 100 feet high. This mining museum offers two underground tours that get you to the depth of the mine. You can have a short tour of 65 feet which can take you an hour. However, there is a 100 feet tour that can expose you to more history. You also get to see the vein of the Orphan girl in a 1.5 hours tour.
You will be set to experience life underground once you are fitted with a miner’s hard hat and a cap lamp. Due to World the Museum of Mining’s popularity, its space is limited and you have to make a reservation first. It’s opened daily April-October, 9.00-18.00. It also opened in November but in limited hours.
At the World Museum of mining, you will learn the evolution of mining technology and how the mining industry molded Butte to be what it is today. You also get miners’ information such as their cultural backgrounds and ethnic. Note that these are 2500 men who lost their lives mining. You will find four walls with the names of these men embedded.
The Black Hills Mining Museum
It’s a museum located in South Dakota, United States. This museum in the mile-high city of lead aims to preserve the minerals heritage of South Dakota black hills. About a century ago, gold mining took place on this site. But today it is an educational exhibit as well as a tourist attraction.
A visit to the simulated gold mine is a fascinating experience with the help of knowledgeable fun tour guides. The magnificent appearance of the Black Hills exhibit owes to the former mineworkers who created it. The museum unfolds the story of the Western Hemisphere’s gold mine
Here is an interesting part of the black hills museum. You won’t return home empty-handed. You’ll receive the best gold samples that could be mined in the Black hills. The staff here teach gold-panning techniques.
Wondering when you can visit this mining museum? You can visit from 9.00 and the latest tour starts at 16.00. It’s not only suitable for families with kids but also for the disabled. Visit their website for more information.
National Mining Hall of Fame
It is a mining museum located in Leadville Colorado, United States. It started in 1987 on land that belonged to the Colorado School of Mines. National Mining Hall of Fame dedicates to commemorate the workers who pioneered the mining of the nation’s natural resources.
When you visit the museum, you learn the full story about mining and the people who mined. The story gives the significance of mining to the American public.
But that’s not all…
The 25,000 square feet museum displays quite memorable exhibits. The major ones include a complex model railroad, a gold rush room with various samples of native gold, and a tour to a model underground hard rock mine. You’ll also view specimens of other minerals.
The mining museum in Leadville offers two sets of tours, the usual (self-guided) and guided. The self-guided is between 11.00 and 16.45 daily but the guided one can be at noon, 13.00, 14.00 and 15.00 Friday to Sunday. However, groups of 10 people or more can request guided tours one week in advance.
German Mining Museum
The German Mining Museum also is known as BTM (Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum), is the most popular museum in Germany. Guess what? It is the largest in the world. There are floors of exhibits that tell the story of mining in the world. Below the museum terrain, you’ll find a contemporary reconstructed show mine. It is the major attraction for most tourists.
This mining museum is a treasure for all types of visitors. I know you might wonder why.
This is why…
Scientists rely on this museum to research the history and technology of mining. It gives insights into the world of mining to tourists. Archaeologists visit this museum to collect artifacts information to help reconstruct extinct cultures.
Families enjoy guided tours to 20m below to view a meritorious mine shaft. Kids will enjoy nice views from the tall headframe. Though tour guides are mostly available in German, you can book for English tours in advance.
The best time to visit is between Tuesday and Friday at 8.30-17.00. To visit other times contact them for more updates.
Visnes Mining Museum
Visnes mining museum is located in Visnes, Norway. In 1895 this site was rich in copper ores. It was the greatest copper mining area in Europe and produced 70% of Norway’s copper export.
This museum is one of its kind with a large playground for the kids. It narrates the story of the miners and exhibits the work methods used. Here you will learn that the Statue of Liberty in Newyork was created using copper from this mine site.
It has a very attractive landscape in picturesque surroundings with jaggy footpaths. Be sure to visit this museum to supplement your Norway visit. Checking in the Visnes Gruve Cafe will only top-up your fun-filled visit.
So you are curious about the time of the visit. Visiting is in two seasons. The first is between June and September from 12.00 to16.00 on Sundays only. The second season is from July to August from 12.00 to 16.00 Tuesday through Sunday.
You can also book to visit any time of the year if you are a group of 15 people. You can contact this mining museum here.
The Coal Mining Museum of Slovenia
The mining museum commemorates the work of many generations of miners in Slovenia. It was incorporated by the cooperation between the city municipality of Velenje, the Velenje Museum and Coal Mine is still working.
Their ambition was to bring the story of Slovenian coal mining close to visitors from all walks of the world. When you visit the museum, you will learn different coal mining museum values such as ‘Support’ and ‘Companionship.’ Apparently, you will acquire the full knowledge about the development of Slovenia mining.
So what’s the center of attraction here? You must be wondering. Those that have visited the site spread the news of the shaking in the museum. And so visitors ask, “When will it Shake?” There is the simulation of an accident and that’s when it shakes.
Sounds scary? There is no need to worry. It is completely safe. People are also attracted by dining in the deepest lunch room. The museum is suitable for all including the disabled. The best part of visiting the coal mining museum of Slovenia is… There is more to enjoy.
National Mining Museum-Scotland
This European museum stands on a four-acre land that was initially the Lady Victoria Coal mine. The mine operated between 1895 to 1981. It is the best-preserved coal mine in Europe.
This mining museum displays exhibits of interactive galleries that explain the industrial history of coal mining. Visitors find exclusively guided tours here dominated by experienced ex-miners. Thus, you get a clear picture of working in the pit. You get an unrivaled perception of the mining practice.
The mining museum provides a thrilling experience for all ages. One of the visitors highlights is a powerful steam winding engine. There is also the undercroft which visitors tour under a guide. The undercroft houses two railway wagons which serve as symbols of key periods of Lady Victoria Colliery.
To complement the museum’s visit experience is ‘Cafe Coal’. It offers delicacies for all ages. To know the museums visiting hours check their site here.
The Kimberly Diamond Mining Museum
Of many mining museums, this mining Museum is located in Kimberly, Northern Cape, South Africa. Many visitors are yet to learn the hidden treasure here. It is among the leading open-air museums in the world. A major attraction in this site is a world-renowned big hole right next to the museum. It’s a feature that tells the story of Diamond rush during Victorian heydays.
This big hole is the largest on earth and was dug by hand. It is 215 meters deep and covers a perimeter of 1.6km. Visitors can travel underground in an absolute recreation of a mine shaft.
The museum is a commemoration of the turning point of South Africa. The diamond rush revolutionized the country forever. The church, the digger’s town, shops, and houses are the exhibits in this museum.
There is a lot more to see and learn in this mining museum. It is open from 8.00 to 17.00 daily. An overnight stay in Kimberley Accommodation will enable you to exhaust your tour the next day.
Sterling Hill Mining Museum
The museum is today called ‘Sterling Hill Mine Tour & Museum of Fluorescence’. Its site was formerly iron and zinc mine which closed in 1986. It is a popular museum in New Jersey, United States.
A visit to the museum makes you understand the whole ore mining process.
Exhibits in this mining museum include the mining equipment history and drilling and blasting demonstration. But that’s not all.
There is an outstanding exhibit that made Sterling Hill Mine Museum enter the National Register of Historic Places. This is the fluorescent “Rainbow Tunnel”. A major attraction here.
When you visit this 240 feet section, ultraviolet lights are turned on and you can see rocks glow under the lights. The Museum allows visitors to carry some minerals samples home. It opens from 8.30 to 15.30 Monday through Friday, and 9.30 to 15.30 on Saturday and Sunday.