The University collections are important for our understanding of the history of the University of Oslo, as well as the history of scholarship in general. Both have played key roles in shaping society.
The pharmacy collections represent a bridge between several academic disciplines. Photo: Terje Heiestad/MUV.
Our collection practice
The various university museums at the University of Oslo have now been consolidated into the Natural History Museum and the Museum of Cultural History. The Museum of University History is a department of the Museum of Cultural History, although it has a slightly different collection management practice.
A variety of collections
The Natural History Museum and Museum of Cultural History hold collections of e.g. botany, geology, zoology, paleotology, ethnography, nordic archaeology, classical archaeology, medieval Norwegian religious art and numismatics. A central task of the Museum of University History is the documentation and preservation of collections connected to history of science, research, teaching, institutional history and student life, as well as university architecture, design and historical photos.
Reflecting the history of the disciplines
We are in charge of a number of historical collections. However, our primary task is to assist the University’s units in managing their own collections of objects of historical interest. This may include establishing new collections of objects which reflect the history of the discipline.
The Museum of University History collaborates closely with all the different units at the University of Oslo. The academic communities possess invaluable specialist knowledge. Our goal is to facilitate and ensure that the various collections remain relevant and contemporary. The collections are invaluable as a source for the history of science.
In future, more collections will be documented.
The University of Oslo’s Physics Cabinet is something of an Aladdin’s cave, with talking gas flames, gyroscopes, spherometers, and Magdeburg hemispheres, to name but a few. Large parts of the old teaching collection are now on display at the Department of Physics.
Short presentations of the collections
The University History Photobase (UFO) contains about 50,000 digital photographs related to the University of Oslo, of which about 10,000 are available for search on the web. The purpose of the Photobase is to ensure the University’s visual history.
The Dentistry Collections (DOS) contain over 3000 objects, including dental tools dating from the 1820s to modern times. They comprise objects from dentistry activities all over Norway as well as objects connected to research and teaching in Oslo.
The objects were used in medical instruction and research in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The core of the present collection is the University’s historical surgical instruments. In future, more of the medical collections will be documented.
The physics collection consists of various instruments and objects used for teaching purposes in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Parts of the collection were also used for research. The collection is organised into the main categories of acoustics, electricity, mechanics and heat.
The collection reflects developments in chemistry over more than 150 years. It includes objects used in teaching and research. Many served multiple purposes. Instruments are important sources of information about everyday life at the Department and the development of the discipline.
The University has a diverse collection of historical artefacts from the various branches of biology. It includes beautiful old microscopes and scientific instruments from the recent past. There are objects related to zoology, botany, limnology, marine botany, genetics and zoophysiology.
The collection comprises several teaching collections and a range of individual objects. Drogues, or dried plants, have always been a central component in the teaching. The collection is an important source of knowledge about a subject area and research field with close ties to medicine, chemistry and biology.
The collection consists of various artefacts, instruments, books, prints and archival materials originally used in the University Astronomical Observatory. There are also archives related to the establishment of the University’s Solar Observatory at Harestua in the 1950s.
The collections of geosciences are connected to disciplines like geography, geology, geophysics, hydrology, meteorology and oceanography. The Department of Geosciences and the Museum of University History are presently planning a future documentation project.
Collection of furniture and design
Antique or historical furniture and interiors are connected to institutional and social identities and are also valuable sources for understanding the University's visual and spacial changes. The collection contains a broad range of furniture. Many were designed for university purposes.
The collection consists of building fragments, casts and various elements originating from University buildings. They are great resources in restoration activities as well as important sources for research. Together, they illustrate development and changes in University architecture.
Institution and Student life
Ceremonial robes, artefacts connected to everyday university administration or miscellaneous objects do all illuminate the history of the institution as well as the task of running a university through centuries. The collection also contains a variety of artefacts and printed sources connected to student life.
Correspondance, prints, drawings and accounts related to the University's architectural heritage. The core is the archive created by Holger Sinding-Larsen, building inspector between 1907-1927, as well as documents relating to building activities at the campus of Blindern in the -30s and -60s.
Addresses of the centennial 1917
An address is an official greeting, printed or handwritten. For its centennial in 1911, the University received 120 addresses from all over the world. Most were beautifully decorated and presented. They document a long-gone practice and create an insight to the crafts of the period.
Library and presscuttings
The Museum of University History keeps presscuttings related to university activities throughout the times. We also have volumes of university and students newspapers and a library specializing in the history of the University and the Sciences. Accessable by appointment.