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University History Collections

The database of University History Collections comprises collections from several academic communities at the University of Oslo.

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Deklinatorium, et instrument som angir vinkelen mellom geografisk og magnetisk nord. Fra fysikksamlingen. Foto: Helge Brekke/MUV

The database includes both collections that the Museum of University History manages and collections that the departments manage themselves or in collaboration with us. The Museum of University History has been in charge of the registration work

Searchable collections

Collections from the Department of Biosciences, the Department of Chemistry, the Department of Physics, the Department of Preclinical Medicine, the Department of Pharmacy and the Faculty of Dentistry are now searchable in the database of University History Collections. They contain a representative selection of research instruments, teaching equipment and objects related to administration. The collection is a work in progress, and more objects will be added to the database in the coming years. With time, other departments’ collections will also become available.


Carl Zeiss light microscope. Photo: Helge Brekke/MUV

Interdisciplinary perspective

By combining instruments and equipment from all the various disciplines in a single database, the history of the University of Oslo in particular and the history of science in general are presented in an interdisciplinary light. The University History Collections provides unprecedented opportunities to use our historical material as a source.

Contact us

The database is in Norwegian. Please contact us by e-mail if you need help searching.

Coordinator: Anne Vaalund (

Search in the University History Collections

Presentation of the collections


Friction apparatus to demonstrate the “mechanical equivalent of heat”. Photo: Helge Brekke / MUV

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. Today’s physics collection represents about half of the one that existed at the University of Oslo until the 1950s. The other half was transferred to the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology.



Goniometer from R. Fuess.  Photo: Helge Brekke / MUV

The chemistry collection reflects developments in chemistry over more than 150 years. It includes objects used in teaching and research – and many of the objects served multiple purposes. Many instruments are important sources of information about everyday life at the Department and the development of the subject.




Kristine Bonnevie used these models in her teaching to demonstrate the early phases of foetal development. Photo: Helge Brekke / MUV

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. Today, all the disciplines are organised together at the Department of Biosciences (IBV).




Apothecary grinder used to grind drogue materials such as bark, wood and fruit. Photo: Helge Brekke / MUV

The pharmacy 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 pharmacy collection is an important source of knowledge about a subject area and research field with close ties to medicine, chemistry and biology.

The majority of the more apothecary-related objects are now in the possession of the Norwegian Pharmacy Museum. A large part of this collection is on display at the Norwegian Folk Museum and is searchable via




 Upper jaw dentures with attachment to the lower jaw. Made of gold, platinum, porcelain and ivory. 

The Dentistry Collections (DOS) contain over 3000 objects, including dental tools dating from the 1820s to modern times. The collection comprises objects from dentistry activities all over Norway and objects that have been in use in research and teaching here in Oslo from 1915 to the present day.




 Trepanation instruments that were included in the collection of surgical instruments in 1829. Photo: Carina Knudsen / MUV.

The collection’s objects were used in medical instruction and research in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The core of the collection is the University’s collection of surgical instruments, which consists of surgical instruments and other objects that have been used in the pre-clinical instruction of medical students.




Tags: History of science, University history, Database
Published June 28, 2019 11:13 AM - Last modified July 3, 2019 12:37 PM