Her favourite item in the collection is an emerald crystal from Muzo, Colombia. »It’s strange because green isn’t really my colour, even though I like to be in the countryside surrounded by nature«, explains the keen cyclist. »But that green is intoxicatingly beautiful«. The crystal in question is completely transparent and clearly stands out from the calcite crystals around it.
Birgit Kreher-Hartmann sees the collection as more than just a museum – it is also an important place of education. »We live in a world made of minerals. They’re the building blocks and raw materials for everything we use in our everyday lives«. She’s critical of the fact that mineralogy is only marginally included in school curricula. »If you can’t tell a birch from a conifer, that’s a problem. But if you can’t tell basalt from granite, nobody cares«. That’s why Kreher-Hartmann offers various workshops for schools and training courses for teachers. She also regularly takes guests from the university on guided tours of the collection.
Her passion for rocks, minerals and the scientific collection has also been recognized outside of the university – the Thuringia Museum Association has awarded her the Bernhard von Lindenau Medal for her dedication.
But that’s by no means the end of Birgit Kreher-Hartmann’s commitment. She is a long-standing member of the jury for »Jugend forscht«, a youth research competition in Thuringia, she is the press officer for the German Mineralogical Society, and she also heads the minerals working group at the National Museum of Natural History in Braunschweig. She also spent many years acting as the spokesperson and deputy spokesperson for mineralogical museums and collections in German-speaking countries.
When Birgit Kreher-Hartmann is not busy with her professional and voluntary work, she likes to perform music. She has been playing viola in the Academic Orchestra Association for 25 years. The viola has been her instrument since the 10th grade – and before that she learned to play the violin for four years. Besides the orchestra, Kreher-Hartmann also plays in a string quartet. »Music gives me balance and inner peace«, she says. She also values the fact that music brings people together, for example when she participates in exchanges with a Japanese orchestra and travels with her fellow musicians to countries such as Italy and Denmark. And she also benefits from the exchange of ideas within the orchestra in Jena, where she talks to people from other parts of the university.
Balance on the bike
Kreher-Hartmann, who lives in Jena with her husband and son, says she always looks forward to a few quiet holidays with her family as a further balance to her work. »For example, we like to go cycling in Brandenburg«. But her love and keen eye for minerals won't let her go, even on holiday. So, she will continue to collect here and there or marvel at nature and its wonders.