Christian Brückner, head of UConn’s chemistry department, started collecting more than 45 years ago when he was a young teen in Germany and his father a metallurgist who’d bring home laboratory leftovers. From an early 19th century bottle of mercury salt to manganese nodules scooped from the bottom of the Pacific, Brückner’s childhood collection grew through the decades, reaching more than 1,000 pieces. Many now grace a wall-sized interactive periodic table in an atrium of the Chemistry Building. Every item has a story. “I wanted to connect each element to the natural world, our daily lives, and the work that we do in research labs” says Brückner.
Photos by Peter Morenus