The collection comprises items found at 2,700 locations, amounting to over 5,000 specimens.
The beginnings of this collection date back to 1781, when the mineral collection compiled by Carl A. Gerhard (1738-1821) was purchased. It contained, among other things, a pallasite meteorite. The Russian emperor Alexander I contributed another specimen of this type of stone-iron meteorite..
Klaproth and Chladni
When the University of Berlin was founded into 1810, the meteorites became property of the Mineralogical Museum. Seven years later, Christian S. Weiss (1780-1856) enlarged the collection by purchasing 17 meteorites that belonged to the chemist Martin H. Klaproth (1743-1817). Weiss was also in close contact to Ernst F. F. Chladni (1756-1827), who, on his death, bequeathed 41 meteorites to the Museum. Chladni was the founder of meteoritics as a science.
von Humboldt and Rose
Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) donated to the museum nine meteorites which he had collected on his travels or which had been given to him.
At the time, the collection contained 181 of 230 known meteorites. On the grounds of his analysis of the available material, Gustav Rose (1798-1873) devised the first classification of meteorites in 1864, which still provides the basis for modern classifications of meteorites.
Carl Klein (1842-1907) increased the number of meteorites in the collection from 217 to 500. Günther Hoppe inspired a renaissance of research into meteorites in the 1970s, publishing new catalogues in 1969 and 1975.
The purchase of a large number of meteorites from the Sahara desert between 1893 and 1896, increased the scope of the collection considerably. The material is now used by researchers from all over the world. Historical meteorite finds form also part of the permanent exhibition of the Museum.