History and origins

Museums and Special Collections

From origins dating to 1542 to Marischal Museum, the University collections have a long history.


The collections of books, archival material and museum objects of the University of Aberdeen are amongst some of the most important and valuable in the world. They reflect the local and international history of the university and tell the stories of the people who created, collected, curated, and encountered them.

From their inception, the two universities of Aberdeen (King's College [1495] and Marischal College [1593]) created library collections containing books and manuscripts of rare and historical significance. The historical, institutional records of both colleges became the focus of the archival collections which today also contain records of estates, businesses, and individuals. The university museum collections, of human culture, natural sciences, and medicine, gathered throughout the university histories are today a ‘Recognised Collection of National Significance’.

Museums and Special Collections is now entrusted with curating these objects, archives, and printed materials. These collections of unique material are carefully curated and conserved and are available for use by students and staff of the university, and external researchers and readers from the local community and throughout the world. The collections continue be developed, as new and important acquisitions are made, and are being reinterpreted using new techniques and re-evaluated from different perspectives.

Further Reading