The beginning of some of the BBU Museums can be traced back to the second half of the 19th century. The Zoological Museum was founded in 1859 as a section of the Transylvanian Museum, and the collections of the Museum of Mineralogy and the Botanical Museum also originate in the material accumulated by this Museum.
Their development was stimulated by the initiatives for creating museum collections that support the teaching and research activity of the Cluj higher education institutions. Thus, the foundation of the Franz Joseph University in 1872 represents an impact for the organization and enrichment of the diverse collections, with the aid of some important personalities of those times. A part of the materials inherited from this institution became academic collections in 1919, after the First World War, when in Cluj, the University of Upper Dacia was founded, later renamed to King Ferdinand I University.
The permanent collaboration between the Museums and the specialty departments has represented an invaluable source for exhibits of great scientific value for the Museums as well as of detailed documentary information accompanying them. At the same time, some museum institutions, like the Museum of Mineralogy, had only didactic purpose, and they were not accessible to the public.
During the early 2000s, beside the openings of the University Museum and the Vivarium, the cultural and educational importance and usefulness of allowing the access of all interested persons to these collections became obvious. Furthermore, along time, the BBU Museums were visited by some first range personalities of Romania and abroad. For example, among the numerous visitors of the Museum of University History were King Michael I of Romania, the chemist Jean-Marie Lehn, winner of the Nobel Prize, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Gregorian University, the historian Bronislaw Geremek from Poland.
In the following we are presenting some of the most important moments of the past of the BBU Museums:
- 1859: The Transylvanian Museum (Erdélyi Múzeum) is founded, an institution connected with the beginnings of the collections later included into the Museum of Mineralogy, the Zoological Museum, and the Botanical Museum.
- 1872: The Franz Joseph University was founded, with Hungarian as teaching language. The Science Faculty is structured into two departments: the Mineralogy Department and the Geology Department. Professor Koch Antal (1843-1927) was called from Budapest in order to teach geologyi at the Department for Mineralogy and Geology, and at the same time, he was appointed Director of the Geology Institute. As geologist, petrographist, mineralogist, and paleontologist, Koch has published over 300 scientific worksii, he substantially enriched the Mineralogy and Paleontology Collections, and he layed the foundations for the Mineralogy and Geology Museum. Professor Szádeczky Gyula, who became Head of the Mineralogy Department in 1896, has also significantly contributed to the development of the Mineralogy Collection.
- 1900: A part of the Mineralogy Collection exhibits is moved to the new Central Building of the University (today at the address M. Kogălniceanu Street, no. 1).
- 1912: Around this year, the building in the Clinicilor Street, no. 5-7 was constructed; it actually hosts the Zoological Museum (on the first floor), and the Vivarium (in the basement). The construction plan is identical with that of the Zoology Institute in Naples, Italy.
- 1919: In Cluj there was founded the University of Upper Dacia, with Romanian as teaching language; this University was later called "King Ferdinand I". The Museum of Mineralogy, the Paleontology-Stratigraphy Museum, and the Botanical Museum were founded during this year as academic collections, in relationship with the specialty departments. The Mineralogy-Petrography Department and Institute were organized by the scientist Gh. Munteanu-Murgoci, aided by the Cluj professor Victor Stanciu. Professor Eugen Stoicovici and Professor Valeriu Lucca have also contributed in the organization of the Mineralogy Collection. There have to be outlined also the contributions of the biology professors Alexandru Borza and Emil Racoviţă, the latter being the first titular of the General Biology Department in Romania, founded in 1920.
- 1935: The inauguration of the building of the Botanical Institute in the Alexandru Borza Botanical Garden; the Botanical Museum is located on its first floor.
- 1960: The Paleontology-Stratigraphy Museum was coordinated from then on by curators or researchers, a task that had been previously assigned to the department heads: A. Koch (1872-1895), I. Szádeczky (1896), I. P. Voiteşti (1919-1936), Victor Stanciu (1937), Otto Protescu (1938-1946), Dumitru Iacob (1946-1957), and Dr. doc. Ion Al. Maxim (1957-1960).
- 1965: An opening for a museum geologist at the Museum of Mineralogy was approved. During the initial period, there was no specialized museum staff, and the responsibility for the activities connected with the "Didactic Collection of Minerals and Rocks" was assigned for relatively short periods of time to some teaching instructors, who were usually at the beginning of their careers. Among these were assistant custodian Veturia Lucca (1924-1925), museum assistant Gheorghe Pop (1940-1941), museum assistant Vasile Crăciun (1941-1943).
- 1975: The museum geologist position at the Museum of Mineralogy was transformed into a museographist position. At that point started a systematic inventory and reorganization activity of the anterior didactic collections as well as their transformation into a real museum space. This activity was carried out by Iulia Ţârlea-Hoţiu until 1989.
- 1998: Start of the Vivarium construction funded by the Babeş-Bolyai University and the Biology and Geology Faculty.
- April of 2001: The Museum of University History is founded on the initiative of the BBU Rector's Office. Until March 2007, it is located in the I.I.C. Brătianu Street, no. 22, inside the building of the European Studies Faculty, in two halls, and later on in five permanent exhibition halls.
- 2001: Opening of the Vivarium; it had initially sheltered only a collection of reptiles and amphibians belonging to the autochthonous fauna.
- 2002: The Museum of University History started organizing temporary exhibitions on various university and science history subjects. One of the first successful actions was the exhibition "Two Hundred Years since the Birth of Janos Bolyai" (2002). Other exhibitions of this kind were: "Ten Years of Donations and Acquisitions at the Babeş-Bolyai University Museum" (2011), "140 Years of Hungarian University Teaching at Cluj-Napoca" (2012), " Marya Kasterska-Petre Sergescu: Polish-Romanian Intellectual Interferences" (2013).
- 2002: Following the initiative of the BBU Rector's Office, the Museum of Mineralogy opens its gates for the public.
- 2007: The Museum of University History moves its location to the vicinity of the BBU Central Building, i.e. in the Mihail Kogălniceanu Street, no. 4, on the first floor, where it is still functioning today.
- 2008: The Museum of University History registers its first participation in the European action "Night of Museums".
i Cadar (Morărescu) Gabriela (2011) - Evoluţia cunoaşterii geologice reflectată în publicistica specifică din secolele XVIII şi XIX privitoare la aria intracarpatică a României. Rezumatul tezei de doctorat.
ii Koch Antal (Wanek Ferenc) In: Kovács Kiss Gyöngy (szerk.): Hivatás és tudomány: az Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület kiemelkedö személyiségei. Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület, Kolozsvár, 2009. 283–341.