The geological exhibition at Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt explores the Earth’s structure and history, as well as the geological past of southern Hesse. Among the highlights in this area is a digital block model of the Earth allowing visitors to dig into its structure and internal processes, and our interactive layer scanner where visitors can travel through geological time. Geological periods are here showcased by selected fossils. A further highlight of the exhibition is a one-of-a-kind reconstruction of a Cretaceous reef, excavated from the Sultanate of Oman. This rudist reef provides a unique glimpse into a past tropical marine ecosystem. Information on the geology of the Odenwald and a relief model of southern Hesse complete the exhibition.
The origins of the geological, palaeontological and mineralogical collections go back to Johann Heinrich Merck (1741–1791) and date from the 1780s. Louis X, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt at that time, purchased Merck's estate in 1792 for his natural history cabinet. Until the first half of the 19th century, the collection primarily consisted of rocks from the nearby Odenwald mountains and gathered fossils, including ammonites, shells, fish, corals, and sea lilies.
Today, the geological and paleontological collection covers a much broader spectrum. For example, the Hessisches Landesmuseum houses several collections of fossil invertebrate organisms; among these are unique collections of Devonian brachiopods (a phylum of marine shelly animals) from the Rhenish Massif, or Late Cretaceous rudist bivalves (an extinct group of bivalves) from the Sultanate of Oman, unique in diversity and scientific value. In addition, the Stratigraphic Collection includes rock samples of different geological epochs from all over the world.