It's amazing what you can find on the doorstep on a dismal, cold, damp February Saturday afternoon when you can't think of a thing to do. A quick search of the local what's on pages revealed a museum we'd read about ages ago and promptly forgotten - the Lapworth Museum of Geology. Like the Barber Institute the other week this turned out to be on the University of Birmingham campus, tucked away in the Grade II* listed 'Earth Sciences' building. Also like the Barber it was more 'educational institution' than genuine museum, but it also turned out to be fascinating.
A room full of glass cases revealed hidden treasures. There was everything from tiny trilobite fossils to whole dinosaur skeletons (okay, small ones, but still...); from fragments of precious metal to vast crystals of galena and quartz. Apparently the museum was started in 1880 by Charles Lapworth (hence the name) with a collection of fossils found mostly in the West Midlands. Since then it's been added to from all over the world and it's now one of the largest specialist geological museums in the country.
My only criticism is that some of the labelling is very old-fashioned and unhelpful: small cardboard labels with vast Latin names and not much actual information. It was still great fun, though, and we would happily go again.