CESM’s exhibits present high quality information with hands-on displays and educators to help you understand our wonderful world! We strive to present high-level science that can be understood by children and enjoyed by even the most accomplished geologist.

Hall Of Minerals

The Hall of Minerals features many items from the Colburn Earth Science Museum’s primary collection of more than 4,500 specimens from around the world, including a examples of the more than 350 minerals found in North Carolina such as kyanite, quartz, corundum, beryl, mica, feldspar and itacolumite, the bending rock.

Grove Stone Room

A model of the inside of a volcano for visitors to touch and learn about volcanoes, earthquakes, and plate tectonics!

Displays in the Grove Stone Room explore the geology of North Carolina and the entire Earth. The exhibits cover volcanoes, earthquakes, plate tectonics and general geologic processes, including those that formed the mountains of Western North Carolina.

History Of Mining In North Carolina

An antique miner’s hat with carbide lamp. Just one of many amazing artifacts we have in our “History of Mining” Exhibit!

This exhibit chronicles mining activity in North Carolina, including the activities of prehistoric Native Americans, Spanish explorers and 20th-century Western North Carolinians. Displays showcase North Carolina’s role as the first major producer of gold in the United States, commercial mining in the state and the variety of gemstones found in North Carolina. The exhibit also has a replica of a gem mine, complete with a pretend dynamite charge and gem pockets.

Gemstone Collection

The museum’s gem collection includes more than 1,000 cut gemstones from around the world, including specimens from North Carolina. Garnet, morganite, diamond, emerald, ruby, sapphire, hiddenite, stibiotantalite, tourmaline and topaz are just some of the breathtaking gemstones on display.

Weather Climate and You

Visitors can explore meteorology and climatology through this exhibit. Learn about weather events and patterns in Western North Carolina and the Southeastern United States, and practice giving a weather report on TV at the Colburn.


The Colburn is working to create a permanent paleontology exhibit. Currently, the museum has on display a handful of fossils from the museum’s collection of more than 500 fossil specimens. These include teeth from a mastodon and a wooly mammoth, a large trilobite and a glossopteris fern fossil.