The first information about the existence of a large Cabinet of Natural History (Das Naturalien Kabinet) at Lviv Josefin University belongs to 1784, when the University took a large complex of buildings after Trynitars at the end of the Krakowska streets which were located in front of Krakow Gate: «Nadto było tu 20 sal, wielki Gabinet historyi naturalnej» (Finkel, Starzyński, 1894). Not only animal samples were exposed in the "museum" but also the minerals, agricultural and numismatic collection.
When Galicia was annexed to Poland in the early nineteenth century, it was decided to move Lviv University to Krakow where a much older High School existed. In this regard, in 1803, the lists of gatherings and devices were compiled which should be taken out after moving of professors. However, only 20 of naturals, 10 natural products, 50 engravings in frames, metal pounder and 26 chemical devices, along with books, moved to Krakow.
Professor Baltazar Hacquet was the first mentioned head of the Cabinet of Natural History of Lviv National University in 1805. He enriched the collections and wanted to take it to Krakow, but a quick departure gave no opportunity to remove valuable gatherings whichwere being collected duringat least three decades.
There remained the Lyceum after removal of the University in 1808. The department of natural history and practical geometry were reversed and united with the beginning of Farming and the science of measurement. The professors Hloysner and Holfeld supervise this department.At the same time it was ordered to organize and write off the natural charges which became unsuitable since leaving of the University in Krakow.
The law professor Dominik Seyfried von Köfil has been writing statistics Galicia and auditing gatherings of the Cabinet of Natural History during 1808-1809 years. His target was to obtain data on surviving and preserved museum specimens because there were found lack in natural samples then.
At the same time, philosophy professors of "university" required replenishing the natural by doublets from imperial Vienna's museums, increasing library subsidies and separation of numismatic cabinet.
In 1816 professor Franz Diwald came to Lviv University and redounded to receiving some doublets from imperial collections in Vienna for the Cabinet of Natural History in 1823. In addition, it was ordered the land, forest and mountain governments to send interesting natural finds to collections of the Cabinet.
At the same time, Lviv pharmacist Francis Salyamon gave the Cabinet his natural collection so its funds were enriched.
In 1848 the differentiation of natural sciences began and it imprintedon the Natural Cabinet. Collection of economic direction was switched to engineering department and later to the High School of field crops in Dublyany.
Almost half a century the Cabinet of Natural History at the University of Jan Kazimierz served as a good educational and scientific base for training natural scientists, but its collection replenished only by incidental income, such as gifts. The situation changed with the coming distinguished scholar, Professor Benedikt Dybowsky. He was asked to head the department of zoology in 1883 when he was in the expedition in Kamchatka. B. Dybowsky arrived in Lviv inearly January 1884. He was an associate professor of major school (university) in Warsaw. After participation in the preparation of the Polish January Uprising in 1863 he was sentenced to 12 years of exile in Siberia for hard labor by the Russian throne. During the serving in Siberia, he found that the fauna, particularly bird fauna of Eastern Siberia is different from the Western and Eastern Europe. The explanation of this difference was based on evolutionary views of Darwin.
B. Dybowsky presented results of the researches to Geographical Society in Irkutsk in 1867 and received permission to settle near Lake Baikal for researching its fauna. Dybowsky opened Baikal for science, he justified his hypothesis about its origin and evolution of the fauna of Siberia; has prepared a monograph on the Baikal amphipods and found many new species among it. Professor described many other animals – “from sponges to seal” as he has said.
His name became famous in the scientific world after these researches. The Russian government allowed him to return home, but he organized the expedition to Kamchatka and Commander Islands (1879-1883), where he worked as a physician and naturalist. Dybowsky forwarded huge collections to Zoological offices in Warsaw, Krakow and Lviv University.
Dybowsky both headed the Department of Zoology and the Cabinet and natural history, where he placed his numerous gatherings brought from the Far East, Kamchatka, eastern Siberia and other places. 25 February 1885 for creating Zoological Museum three rooms and corridor were given to the Cabinet of Natural History at the request of B. Dybowsky and by order of the Rector of the University of Jan Kazimierz. So the total area of rooms for exposition was almost 500 m2. Museum has been developingsuccessfully; his collections were being replenishedby-collecting items during the expeditions, gifts from various individuals and students of B. Dybowsky and so on.
Gatherings of B. Dybowsky became the basis of museum collections with more than 2 thousand items. This is mainly animals collected in the lake Baikal, the Far East, Kamchatka and in vicinity of family manors. It is mostly malakologycal and hydrobiological collections. The collections of sponges, crustaceans and molluscs of the lake Baikal are especially valuable among them, among which are the typical examples of 6 lecotypes and paralecotypes: Pisidium raddei Dyb., Pisidium trigonoides Dyb. = Henslowiana trigonoides, Pisidium baicalense Dyb., Sphaerium korotnewii Dyb., Sphaerium baicalense Dyb., Acroloxus renardi Dyb.
The museum received also the collection of shellfish of the Caspian Sea as well as terrestrial and freshwater mollusks from Galicia and Lithuania from Dr. Wladyslaw Dybowsky (own brother Benedict Dybowsky) – about 100 units with a total number of1000 copies.
In 1889 the museum received a gift from Graf Dzieduszycky – collection of shells of marine molluscs (258 titles).
The period of active development and establishment of the Zoological Museum has begun. The Researches were carried out inthis period inclose collaboration with international colleagues, in particular with the Institute of Oceanography in Monaco and the first European Biological Station in Naples and Trieste. In the late nineteenth - early twentieth century Museum enriched by the shells of molluscs, echinoderms and fishes from the Red, Adriatic and Mediterranean seas, collected by the expedition of Prince of Monaco and the staff of Biological Station, within the 1886-1903 years.
Equally important are the collection of insects of A. Ulyanowsky that according to preliminary data of more than 5 thousand species with a total number of more than 10 thousand copies, and the collection of Galician butterflies gathered by S.K. Pietrusky in 80 years of the nineteenth century.
In 1904 the museum collections were enriched withtheir most valuable exhibit the skeleton of Stellers or Sea cow, which had been exterminated by1768. The inhabitants of isle of Bering have giftedit as gratitude for free treatment. In addition 4 partial skulls and 78 bones of this animals store in the museum. By processing the literature data and documents it was revealed that 5 or 6 skeletons of sea cow that are exhibited in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Vienna and of course in Lviv (skull - in Odessa) came from the walls of the museum. Another one was transferred to Warsaw, but unfortunately it disappeared without trace. There is an assumption that it was sold back to the Russian Empire (Dunaewsky, 1930).
In the early twentieth century the funds of Zoological Museum were enriched with extraordinary collections of insects. Graf Mnishek has bought Ernst-Friedrich Hermar’s collection of cicadas and bugs of the world fauna, which has being gathered during the 1810-1840 years and has over 4 thousand exhibits. In the midst of theseexhibits there are 42 typical samples and specimens from the collections of Fiber, Esholts and Ferster. At the same time the museum acquireda collection of European butterflies (Macrolepidoptera) of Dr. O. Shtodinger (over 2 thousand samples).
In 1935-1936 professor Jan Hirshler (director of Zoological Museum and Head of Zoology Department) made an expedition to Liberia and enriched the Museum with reptiles, insects, arachnids, birds and mammals from Africa.
During World War II Zoological Museum was none the worse. Luckily it rubbed only through the desolation.Although thebomb hit the building it didn’t hurt the museum premises. All museum exhibits had been flungdown in the hall of birds in one big pile during the occupation. It led to their partial loss and damage and considerable loss of labels and inventory descriptions. After the liberation of the city and the end of the war museum resumed its activity and gathering of collections of birds and mammals, mainly from Ukraine (Carpathians, Crimea, Polissya).
In 1952 the Museum received a unique gift from Mary Wodzicka, wife of Jerzy Wodzicky, a famous traveler and naturalist. She gave the museum a collection of African animals and antelope horns, gathered by her husband and his brother Alexander, in 1909-1910 on the territory of East Africa (the German East African colonies (DOA) at that time) and collection of horns of goats and sheep from Tien Shan collected in 1913.
In 1956 in cooperation with the fleet of whalers "Slava" museum gets exhibits from Antarctica (sperm whale skeleton, the scattered bones and skulls of marine mammals, embryos of whales, baleen).
In 1958-1959 and in 1966 the expedition to the Caucasus (Caucasus State Reserve) took place. A large collection of murine rodents were gathered there. The collecting of material in the Crimea and the Carpathians is continuing (Z.I. Pavliv, V.V. Veselovskyy). In 1967 in the Black Sea Reserve I. F. Yemelyanova has collected a substantial gathering of rodents. In 1972 Romaniuk conducted researching and gathering of scientific collections in the Talassky Ala-Tau.
During the 1974-1997 period expeditions in Kazakhstan, the Altai, Kurgan in Khanty-Mansiysk were carried out by research laboratory of the geobotanical researches of the biological department Ivan Franko State University of Lviv and comprehensive zoological expedition, which were headed by V.M. Turkevich. The collections of animals that were brought from expeditions added to the collection of Zoological Museum.
In 1962 and 1973 museum staff participated in expeditions to Kazakhstan (M.N. Voznyuk) and brought some Central Asian reptiles and mammals. In 1966 - the expedition to the Caucasus, where numerous rodents were collected and in the same period collections and materials were replenished from the Crimea and the Black Sea Reserve, western areas of Ukraine. The most famous figures, whichhave enrichedthe museum’s funds, are: F.Y. Strautman, N. Srebrodolska and N.A. Polushyna.
F.Y. Strautman has carried his researches for 18 years starting from 1945. The most actively professor has been gatheringhis collection particularly during 1946-1955 and 1961-1962 years. He made a lot of field trips in the Carpathians, Carpathians and the Carpathian region, Polissya and Volyno-Podillya. Many people helped him in gathering material: M. Rudyshyn, N. Srebrodolska, M. Lysova, J. Valenta, T. Neyizhkasha, S. Kotsyubynsky, L. Matviyiv, Z. Pavliv, C. Lola, V. Wojciechowski, T.V. Chervatyuk, B. Dobrynskyj, E. Svitlyk, N. Antonevych, S. Vojtovych, V. Klymyshyn.
During the researches F.Y. Strautman managed to gather a collection that consists of 1129 carcasses of 149 species of birds, including the part of material which was identified to a subspecies. There are samples collected in Zaporizhia and Odessa, the Black Sea national reserve, Crimea, Caucasus, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan and a few samples from Lake Baikal, Mongolia, Voroshilovgrad (now Lugansk region).
Most of the F.Y. Strautman’s collection qualitatively represents the avifauna of Carpathians and areas that surround them. In particular, a third of collection of 367 copies is own achievement of Fedir Yohanovych (certified by the signature), 230 samples belongs to other authors (including unchecked in any publications: Zhovnir, M. Bychko, L. Melnyk, N. Morej, Telyng, Wrublewskyi, Schuraiv, Sytok, M. Chugunov, A. Fedyk, Klymenko, P. Sokolov, B. Byelosmodov, Durnev, Horynin, Paraskyv, Biryukov, Nekrashevych, V. G. Taropov, Derevyahyn, A. Rustamov, Shamuk) and author was not specified in 532 labels.
Targeted and comprehensive studies of Volyn’ have been held by N.I. Srebrodolska for 15 years (1949, 1953-1965, 1968, 1973).The result of these researches was her doctoral dissertation “Waterfowl and marsh birds of the Western part of the Ukrainian Polissya” (1964), a large number of scientific publications related to breeding biology, abundance and distribution of waterfowl and wetland birds, characteristics of the faunistic diversity of this land, parasitological researches and collection of carcassesof 494 samples. Most of them were collected directly by the author (465 samples) and only 29 were gathered by colleagues and assistants of N.I. Srebrodolska including: Slobodian, V. Klymyshyn, V. D. Yakhontov, S. Vojnovych, T. Chervatyuk, A. Myshyn, P. Eyuka, V. Holmohorov, Vlasenkov and J. Ptahovsky.
Collection includes 84 bird species obtained mainly in Volyn’ in the vicinity of the village and Lake Tour (now Ratnivsky, earlier Zabolottivsky district), near village and Lake Velykhovo (the same area) and near the lakes Svyate, Dovhe, Domashnie, Pisochne, marshes and woods around them. A small amount of material and sometimes only a few samples were collected in Lviv (1 piece) and Transcarpathian (87 piece) areas near the Yalutorovsk station of the Tyumen region (1 piece) and the village Politne of Khabarovsk region (15 piece) of Russian Federation.
Gatherings of N.A. Polushyna, who devoted all her life to Mammalogy, became separate and significant museum collection of mammals. Researching and collecting of material were held mostly in Transcarpathia, Lviv and the Carpathians. A large number of mammals and craniological material of the musteline family collected by N.A. Polushyna are kept in the Museum's funds.
In 70-80-ies of XX century museum collections were enriched with beautiful collection of butterflies from Japan, the Far East, Pamir, Caucasus and Australia thanks to the cooperation of doctor of science R.S. Pavlyuk with Ludwig Liasota.
There are new interesting gatherings from eastern Ukraine (the Lugansk Steppe Reserve) collected by O.V. Kondratenko during 1997-2004 years. In 2005 the Ornithological and malakologycal collections were added by interesting gatherings from the North-East Africa (the Central Delta of the Nile) which were brought by O.S. Zakala (Hnatyna). In 2006, Associate Professor of Zoology I.V. Dykyy brought the beautiful and very valuable material from Antarctica (skins of 12 new bird species including penguins, shells of molluscs, crustaceans, fish, eggs of some birds, osteologycal material, among which the skulls and bones of seals, the complete skeleton of Gentoo penguin).
There are over 40 thousand items in the collections of Zoological Museum today, of almost 170 000 samples of the world fauna, and it belongs to the Research facilities, national property of Ukraine.
Museum staff conductssuchresearchesas monitoring of orientation and migration of birds and they also examine territories included within the protected areas of Ukraine.They have receivedinformation about wintering areas and drift routes of birds from Portugal, France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Egypt.
By the order Academic Council Resolution of biological department of the Lviv National University named after Ivan Franko from October 18, 2000 Zoological Museum was named a distinguished scholar Professor Benedict Dybowsky.