Gems & Dinos: Bob Campbell Geology Museum in Clemson, SC

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Have you heard about the geology museum at Clemson University? The Bob Campbell Geology Museum on Clemson’s campus near Anderson is packed full of interesting gems, crystals, and even dinosaur fossils. It’s certainly worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Clemson's Geology Museum outdoor space

I’ve become pretty fascinated by rocks in the last few months solely because of the fact that my kids and I are working through our Geology unit for homeschooling. I never knew how interesting rocks could be, the different ways they are formed, and just how diverse the world of crystals and gems is. I also had no idea, until I checked out the Bob Campbell Geology Museum at Clemson, just how many fantastic gems and rocks had been found right in our state of South Carolina.

So it was because of our study of geology that I ended up taking my kids (ages 11 and 7) to the museum as a field trip. I had heard about the museum in passing but paid no attention because rocks were boring. I’m happy to say now that I was wrong. Rocks are super interesting and my kids and I really enjoyed this museum. And, don’t be fooled by the size of the museum – it’s small but it houses more than 10,000 gems, minerals, and crystals.

What’s inside the Bob Campbell Geology Museum

Much like a geode I’m hoping to smash, I didn’t know what I’d find inside the Bob Campbell Geology Museum. I figured some neat rocks, gems, and crystals. I was pleasantly surprised to find a decent-sized room with glass cabinets full of precious gems and minerals. They seemed to have everything in there from birthstones to fossils to dazzling crystals. It’s not huge but it’s packed with an enormous amount of things to see.

Inside the geology museum at Clemson

They also had a really neat display with the minerals and atoms that make up specific crystals. We had just studied these a couple of weeks ago so it was awesome to see it face-to-face and something that I could point out to my kids. Another cool thing they had was a piece of volcanic glass, which is lava or magma that is shot up into the air during a volcanic eruption and cools quickly. We had just learned about that days before so I was ecstatic to get to see and feel it at the museum. Does it sound like I enjoyed this museum more than my kids? It’s possible. They loved it though, too. I just may have enjoyed it a tad more.

Hands on displays

While thousands of rocks, minerals, and gems are behind the glass-enclosed doors, the museum does have several gems and rocks that guests can handle. And the displays are fun and engaging since there are questions on each board that ask people to hold the rocks and try to feel the differences between them or compare their shininess.

Fluorescent rock room

Our favorite display at the geology museum was the fluorescent light rock room. This was a small space that you stepped into, turned off all the lights, and then hit the start button. A narrator explained what you were seeing, which was black light shining on the different rocks that were placed behind glass.

Exhibits at Clemson's geology museum

As the light shone brighter on the rocks, you could see all the amazing colors from inside the rocks like red, blue, and green. It was the coolest thing! My kids really liked this and since there wasn’t anyone else there, we did it twice.

Dinosaur displays

In addition to the rock part of the museum, there are dinosaur fossils and bones to check out. There is an enormous foot and leg bone in the room that reaches 11 feet high plus the skull of one dinosaur.

There is also a full skeleton display of a Smilodon, “Clemson’s oldest ‘tiger’.” You’ll learn all about why it’s named that when you visit.

Tiger skeleton

Gift shop

The small gift shop at the geology museum has a large array of all things gemstone. They’ve got geodes you can buy plus stones and gems, Himalayan salt lamps, rock and crystal kits, jewelry, and toys.

I was impressed with the number of neat things they had for sale, including stones and gems found right in South Carolina. The cashier was helpful as well since I had a question about some of the rocks we saw and she got me the answers.

Geology museum gift shop items

Things to do nearby in Anderson

The geology museum is a great stop while visiting the Botanical Gardens (this is the place that has the standing caboose and 300 acres of beautiful gardens to walk through), as it is part of the gardens themselves.

You can also visit Split Creek Farm, the award-winning goat farm, and check out their goats and peruse the gift shop. Get the fudge. You won’t regret it. The farm shop is open daily except for Sunday and you can visit the goats only on Friday and Saturday.

Additionally, the Clemson Experimental Forest trails are just 15 minutes away. There are tons of great trails throughout the forest with little to no elevation, so perfect for kids.

During the spring and fall, Denver Downs Farm is close and has a ton of fun for families to enjoy.

Visiting the Bob Campbell Geology Museum

Admission to the Bob Campbell Geology Museum is free. Donations are encouraged. The museum is located on the campus of Clemson University and there is a pretty desert garden with lots of cacti and pointy plants surrounding the geology museum, including a bone sculpture in the back.

Parking is plentiful and free.

Hours are 10 am – 5 pm Monday through Sunday. They are closed on the official Clemson holidays.

Have you visited the geology museum?

Bob Campbell Geology Museum
140 Discovery Lane, Clemson | 864.656.4600

About the Author
Kristina Hernandez is a mom of two girls, freelance writer and photographer. Originally from New Jersey, she is in love with the Upstate and could not imagine raising her kids anywhere else. She enjoys hiking to waterfalls, kayaking, camping, cooking, and exploring all that Greenville has to offer. And she really loves baby goats. Follow her on Instagram at @scadventurer.

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