On 14th September in 1911 the Bell Pettigrew museum opened in the Bute building as part of the University’s 500th anniversary celebrations.
The museum displays a collection of 13,500 natural history specimens and includes several species which are now extinct, such as the dodo, moa and St Kilda house-mouse. This collection was started by the Literary and Philosophical society in 1838 and was originally housed in Upper College Hall in St Salvator’s Quad. However, as the museum grew, it ran out of room with exhibits starting to overflow down the stairs, therefore an extension was planned for the museum.
Unfortunately the Literary and Philosophical society became unable to afford the upkeep of the museum and so in 1904 it was passed to the University.
Elise Bell Pettigrew paid for the construction of a new space for the collection within the Bute Medical Building on condition that it was named as a memorial for her late husband. The museum and collections are still used for research and teaching.