The predecessor to Hokkaido University was the Sapporo Agricultural College, which opened in 1876. The following year, Dr. William S. Clark proclaimed in the College’s first yearbook that steady effort should be made toward establishing the foundation for a natural history museum in Sapporo. Seven years later, in 1884, the Hokkaido Development Commissioner transferred the Botanical Gardens—as well as the museum housed within the gardens—to Sapporo Agricultural College. The university-affiliated museum now had a home.
Currently, more than 4 million scientific specimens and academic resources representing 130 years of research conducted since the opening of the original Sapporo Agricultural College are housed on the Hokkaido University campus. Of these, roughly 13,000 are type specimens, used in classifying and identifying new species. In 1966, it became a priority to establish a museum to manage these important scientific specimens and academic resources en masse under favorable conditions, while also making information about them available both on and off campus. A plan was developed to refurbish the main science building to create a museum of approximately 9,000 square meters, and The plan was accepted by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture in 1999 and in 2001, as a part of the University’s 125th anniversary, the first phase of work began: 3,000 square meters were renovated and work on public exhibits commenced, and improvements continue to be made today., In 2007, the Fisheries Science Center of the Graduate School of Fisheries Science was annexed to the Hokkaido University Museum.
Today, the museum’s role is continually increasing, becoming a place to arrange, store, and make available to the public important scientific specimens and academic resources while also providing a forum for students, researchers, and members of the community to share in dialogue about the University’s cutting-edge educational and research efforts.