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Mineral specimens in a showcase in Viljo Nissinen´s Mineral Collection.
Photographer: Joni Virtanen

Mineral Collection

The mineral collection displayed in Kieppi is collected by Kokkola-born Viljo Nissinen (1914–2000). He arranged the minerals according to their chemical composition. The disparity of minerals, caused by their origin, attracted Nissinen. The beauty and flawlessness of a specimen was important to him. Nissinen’s goal was to collect all the minerals found in the world. The collection consists of over 1500 mineral specimens with 2000 different minerals.

Minerals and elements illuminate the early development of the Universe. Visitors can also acquaint themselves with different rocks and their origin. The collection includes  also the Siurua gneiss, which is 3,500 millions of years old, making it the oldest rock in Fennoscandia.

Approximately 670 different minerals have been found in Finland. The Finland section of the collection provides a good overview of the abundance of Finnish minerals. For example, an amethyst from Lampivaara, a tourmaline from Kuortane and a zircon from Siilinjärvi are on display. In addition, platinum minerals as well as stone and iron meteorites and minerals that contain radioactive materials are displayed in special showcases.

MINERAL = Naturally occurring crystallized material that consist of chemical compounds formed from the natural elements.

ROCK = A solid material consisting of one or more minerals. Depending on their origins, rocks are divided into three groups – igneous rocks, sedimentary rocks and metamorphic rocks.

Viljo Nissinen

Veikko Salkio, another passionate collector, wrote the following about Viljo Nissinen in 2002:

”Since the beginning of 1982, V. N. visited our collection almost daily. He told us about his hobby as a mineral collector and showed us his collection that at that time fit into a small showcase in his private residence. The following year, he asked me to accompany him to the Vimpeli mine, as he himself had no car. Viljo knew his minerals and we never left a mine empty-handed.

At our lodgings, he told me about his life and that his hobby, collecting minerals, had not begun until he was in his sixties. He had been a sailor in his youth and visited many big cities, and now he thought it was a pity that he had not been interested in minerals at that time.

Viljo’s collection of minerals and the pressing need for a bigger place for them grew rapidly. Luckily, the city rendered assistance. The most impressive mineral collection in Finland was placed in the lobby at the city hall for everyone to admire. Viljo was content – in the beginning. But he found “rarities”, one more fascinating than the next, from his trips to Italy and Spain. Viljo chose only minerals to his collection that he had seen with his own eyes, while other modest collectors order their specimens by mail and take whatever they happen to get.

When the walls in the city hall lobby were covered with showcases containing minerals, Viljo asked the city to keep up with his collecting and provide him with a spacious room, big enough to fit his collection. Finally the city accepted his proposition and started building a new construction that could hold the collections collected by the two war veterans, Veikko and Viljo.”

Nissinen sitting at his typewriter. On the board nearby is an ornamental box with mineral specimen, possibly from China.
Viljo collected mineral specimen from all over the world.

From elements to minerals

Our society is totally dependent on geological resources. We need zinc to manufacture cars, lithium for batteries, quartz for glass, graphite for pencils, and talc for makeup. Without these raw materials found in the soil, our lives would be very different.

The universe started to expand 13,7 billion years ago after the Big Bang, which also produced the first elements, hydrogen and helium. All other elements have been formed in stellar nuclear reactions. When the nuclear reaction stops, the star collapses and casts its outer layers into space or explodes as a supernova. Later on, the resulting material that has spread into space as planetary nebulae and supernova remnants can form new stars and planets with other interstellar materials.

Our planet was formed approximately 4,560 million years ago from the extra debris left over by our newly born sun. Our cool planet started to heat up due to the stream of particles, the increasing pressure created by gravity and the decay of radioactive materials. Due to the melting of chemical elements, the heaviest materials sank toward the centre of the earth and formed the core while the lightest materials floated to the surface. As a result, the earth’s layered structure and the first tectonic plates were formed.

Here on the Earth, the creation of minerals is caused by magmatism, sedimentation and metamorphosis. Different heat and pressure conditions can create different minerals even of the same elements. When a mineral is crystallized in fortunate circumstances, it can achieve an almost perfect crystalline form. The collection contains, for example, a cubic pyrite that looks almost hand-made.

The minerals have an abundance of colours. The beautiful jewels that belong to the beryl group have the same chemical composition, but different elements give them different colours. For example the bright green colour of an emerald comes from chromium and the golden yellow colour of a heliodor comes from iron.