Photo by mhoefft via


Natural History collections of the Arctic University Museum of Norway

Collections form the core of our museum’s activities, serving as distinctive physical repositories for a wide range of fossil and living organisms.

Founded in 1872 under the name Tromsø Museum, the Arctic University Museum of Norway has consistently upheld its mission—to systematically document, preserve, investigate, and exhibit the natural and cultural heritage of Northern Norway. Our institution mirrors the region’s own historical development and is committed to advancing scholarly inquiry and fostering public enlightenment.

In 1976, the museum underwent a transformation when it was merged with the Arctic University of Norway, an institution in its early stages, founded in 1972. This merger represented the harmonization of academic endeavors, united by the common goal of deepening our understanding, appreciation, and exploration of the Arctic and its adjacent areas.

Over the years, the museum’s organizational structure has changed. Since 2007, it has been organized into two principal scientific areas: natural and cultural sciences. The former encompasses the diverse fields of zoology, botany, and geology. However, in pursuit of greater cohesiveness and collaborative research initiatives, the museum recently adopted a more adaptive organizational approach based on research groups.

At the heart of the museum’s research endeavors are its scientific collections—a priceless repository of knowledge. These collections form the foundation upon which our comprehension of the biological and geological phenomena in Northern Norway, including the enigmatic Svalbard archipelago, is built.

The Scientific Collections-Based Taxonomy and Biosystematics research group (NatSciCol) employs state-of-the-art technologies and methodologies to extract insights from museum specimens. Their dedication extends beyond research alone; it encompasses the meticulous curation and preservation of these scientific treasures. Moreover, NatSciCol diligently strives to enhance the accessibility of the museum’s collections, making them more available to both the scholarly community and the general public.

Beyond its role as a research institution, the Arctic University Museum of Norway is a dynamic workplace dedicated to knowledge dissemination. Through its scientifically oriented exhibitions, it serves as a portal to the latest discoveries and insights centered on the Northern regions.

The zoological collections of the Arctic University Museum of Norway comprise over 160.000 collection numbers, each of which can contain several specimens. The collection is divided into a wet and a dry magazine and houses 27 unique type specimens (holotypes) and 56 paratypes.