The Edinburgh Medical School was established in 1726 and was originally located on the site of the University’s Old College.
During the 18th and 19th centuries the school attracted increasing numbers of students from all over the world, which eventually put a strain on the existing facilities. In 1880, a purpose built medical school, designed by Robert Rowand Anderson, was opened at Teviot Place. Integral to this new building was the new Anatomical Museum which opened in 1884. In the 1950s the original three story museum was reduced to a single upper story, the site of the present museum.
The core of the museum collection dates from 1798 when Professor Alexander Monro ‘secundus‘ (1733-1817) donated his anatomical preparations and those of his father, Professor Alexander Monro ‘primus’ (1697-1767), to the Department of Anatomy. This donation formed the nucleus of a collection which was to greatly expand over the next 150 years through the dedicated efforts of subsequent Professors of Anatomy. During the tenure of Professor John Goodsir (appointed in 1846) the collection grew to illustrate the comparative anatomy of vertebrates and invertebrates. Probably the greatest growth of the collection came during the time of Sir William Turner, Professor of Anatomy (1867-1903) who also oversaw the move of the museum to its present location.