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This work details the century-long journey of the BYU Life Science Museum. The museum's early days began at Brigham Young Academy, where it was established by President Benjamin Cluff Jr., with collections gathered by Chester Van Buren. It then moved to the Brimhall Building and then the Grant Building, under the direction of Dr. Kent McKnight and Vera McKnight. The museum passed through the directorship of Dr. C. Lynn Hayward and then began a new phase when Monte L. Bean and his wife Birdie Bean committed to build a museum to house their collection along with the collections BYU already had. This new program and building was created through efforts of Dr. Stephen L. Wood, Drs. Stanley L. Welsh, Dorald M. Allred, and Joseph R. Murdock. The BYU administration was also instrumental in the development of the present-day Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum.

Table of Contents



1900: The Role of Benjamin Cluff Jr.

The Roles of Chester Van Buren and Walter Tolton

The “Demise” of the Museum After Chester Van Buren

The New Beginning

The Desert Museum

The 1930s

The War Years and the Decade of the 1940s

The 1950s

The 1960s

The M.L. Bean Years

Museum Directors

Report of the Curators

Purpose of a Museum


Publication Date



Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah


life science museum, history, Benjamin Cluff Jr., Chester Van Buren, museum directors

History of the Life Science Museum Movement at Brigham Young University 1900–2008