The origins of the Anatomy Museum at the University of Aberdeen are unclear but there is documentation which describes the opening of the refurbished Anatomy Museum at Marischal College in 1881 as part of a general refurbishment of the Anatomy department at that time under the guidance of the first Regius Chair of Anatomy, Professor John Struthers. Struthers was ahead of his time in terms of the needs of medical education and following his retirement from Aberdeen he went on to become the first Chair of the Medical Education Committee of the General Medical Council. Struthers was succeeded by Professor Robert W Reid who occupied the Regius Chair of Anatomy from 1889 – 1925. Professor Reid was a skilled dissector and made a sizeable contribution to the cadaveric objects within the Anatomy Museum.
The collections are wide ranging and the earliest specimens can be traced back to the 1870s. Collecting of objects for the museum has been driven by the research and teaching activities of staff over the years and the museum has some notable strengths:
- Skeletal material
- Fluid-preserved specimens of human tissues
- Modern plastic anatomical models
- Historical anatomical models of wax, papier-mache and plaster
- Works on paper, including 19th century watercolours and anatomical drawings by Alberto Morocco
In addition, the museum has a small collection of associated material, like anti-grave robbing devices used in the north-east of Scotland in the 19th century.