The University of St Andrews is Scotland’s first university, founded in 1413. Like the University, its Museums are rooted in and draw inspiration from this 600-year history of research and teaching, and the pursuit of knowledge for the common good.
Our vision is to reimagine university museums, through curiosity and conversation.
The first museum at the University of St Andrews was founded in 1838 by the Literary and Philosophical Society, a unique partnership between the university and town that worked actively to build the collection in the nineteenth century. By 1912 the museum had outgrown its original location in Upper College Hall and was redisplayed in the newly-built Bell Pettigrew Museum. Throughout the twentieth century, there were displays in a number of locations across the campus, but from 2008 these found a new focus when MUSA (the Museum of the University of St Andrews) opened on the Scores, presenting the history of the University of St Andrews through highlights from its collections. By the end of its first decade, however, this award-winning museum had reached capacity and a programme of strategic development was planned.
In 2021 a major capital project is being completed, to extend and redisplay the museum. The Wardlaw Museum takes visitors inside the University, with four new thematic galleries on its groundbreaking research and global impact, showcasing its extraordinary art, history, science and natural history collections.
The Bell Pettigrew Museum opened in 1912, displaying natural history specimens alongside other collections. Today, the Bell Pettigrew Museum displays fossils and skeletons, taxidermy, and spirit collections, and is organised taxonomically, taking visitors on a journey through the animal kingdom.