One of the premier attractions of the collection is the Fricot nugget (that's a part of it at the top of the page), the largest single remaining nugget from the Gold Rush days, at 13.8 pounds. It sits in a vault within a vault. Most large nuggets were simply melted down (there is a larger nugget at the Ironstone Winery, but it was found in the 1990's at the Harvard Mine). There is a facsimile of the biggest nugget ever found, which originally weighed in at around 200 pounds.
The other smaller gold sample shown above is extraordinary as it shows the crystalline nature of the metal. The mineral forms octahedral crystals, but they aren't seen often because the malleable metal gets pounded into the more familiar nugget shape while being rolled in a stream. Samples like this one have to come from the quartz veins in mines.
The museum has a spectacular collection of other minerals, including some of the best specimens of our state gemstone benitoite. This exceedingly rare sapphire-like crystal is found at a single locality in the world, a serpentine outcrop in the Coast Ranges of San Benito County.