The Geological Museum (originally The Museum of Practical Geology, started in 1835) is one of the oldest single science museums in the world and now part of the Natural History Museum in London. It transferred from Jermyn Street to Exhibition Road, South Kensington in 1935 in a building designed by Sir Richard Allison and John Hatton Markham of the Office of Works.
The Museum of Practical Geology was established in 1837 at a building in Craig's Court, Whitehall, at the suggestion of Henry de la Beche first Director General of the Geological Survey. The museum's library was founded by de la Beche in 1843, mainly by donation from his own library.
Larger premises soon became necessary, and a design for a new building was commissioned from James Pennethorne. This, built on a long narrow site with frontages in Piccadilly and Jermyn Street, housed, as well as galleries, a library, lecture theatre, and offices and laboratories for the Survey. It was constructed between 1845 and 1849, and was opened by Prince Albert in May 1851.
The purpose of the museum, as summarised in the Descriptive Guide, published in 1867, was:
to exhibit the rocks minerals, and organic remains, illustrating the maps and sections of the Geological Survey of the United Kingdom: also to exemplify the applications of the Mineral productions of these Islands to the uses of purposes of use and ornament
The collections were accordingly arranged in two main sections covering natural materials found in the United Kingdom, and industrial products made from them. There were three secondary sections, covering mechanical appliances used to process raw materials, specimens of historical products, and foreign materials imported in their raw state.
In the summer of 1933, the Geological Museum, still at its old location, was the focus of worldwide attention when it served as the venue of the London Economic Conference, bringing together the representatives of 66 nations in a failed effort to end the then-prevalent global depression.