Thomas McCulloch Museum

The Thomas McCulloch Museum consists primarily of a collection of mounted birds that were prepared by Thomas McCulloch in the early  1800s. Housed in a glass-walled hall within the Biology Department, these specimens are mounted in the Audubon Style and ready access is provided to researchers in science, history and even art studies. The museum also attracts the interest of students and the general public. Tucked in between the bird cases lie collections of fossils, seashells, beetles, mushrooms, butterflies and aquarium fish.

Thomas McCulloch, a Presbyterian minister from Scotland, opened a small school in Pictou, N.S. in 1803, and later on in 1816, the Pictou Academy. McCulloch saw the value of natural specimens in his teaching and began collecting plants, animals and minerals to supplement forays into the surrounding wild areas. Later, in 1838, McCulloch was appointed to the position of the first principal of Dalhousie College which he held until his death in 1843.

The Museum had its beginnings in 1884 when Reverend William McCulloch donated his brothers collection of bird specimens, minerals, native artifacts and personal items to Dalhousie. This collection formed the basis of the University Museum described in the university calendar of 1921. The birds which from quite early on were placed in wooden cases,  were kept in various places such as hallways and basements around the university until 1971 when the newly completed Life Sciences Centre opened.

It was decided shortly after the opening that this large, airy hall would make a perfect permanent home for the Thomas McCulloch collection. This present location followed the directions of the Agreement between the donor and the Board of Governors of Dalhousie University which stipulated that the Collection was to be preserved, displayed and enlarged.