William Hunter’s original collection was assembled to 'improve knowledge of the world'.
The University of Glasgow's Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery first opened its doors in 1807. Not only was it Scotland’s first public museum, but it was also the first in Britain with a gallery of paintings. Its founder, Dr William Hunter, was a pioneering obstetrician and teacher and his vast and varied private collection forms the cornerstone of the museum today.
Hunter's picture collection was formed during his tenure as Professor of Anatomy at the Royal Academy. He bought extremely well, acquiring, in addition to Rembrandt's Entombment Sketch, stellar works by Chardin, Rubens and Stubbs, to name a few.
The gallery houses one of the most important collections of work by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh. The Mackintosh House, entry to which is through the main gallery, is a meticulous reassemblage of the principal interiors from the Mackintoshes’ Glasgow home. The principal interiors were decorated in his distinctive style, remarkable then, and now, for the disciplined austerity of the furnishings and decoration.
The museum meanwhile, holds a variety of Scottish fossils and minerals, archaeological artefacts spanning Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome and evolutionary material spanning from the age of the dinosaurs to examples of life on earth today, such as insects, birds and coral.