The Aquarium-Muséum Universitaire de Liège is a museum and tourist attraction that has been open to the public since 1962, but whose first collections date back to the creation of the University in 1817.

Carte postale Institut de Zoologie

The roots

1817. William I of Orange (1772 - 1843) created the University of Liège. He imposed the establishment of animal collections and provided for a "Cabinet of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy of Animals". He personally donated almost 2,000 mollusc shells to the nascent collection.

1835. Jean-Théodore Lacordaire (1801-1871), professor of zoology, Rector of the University and renowned entomologist, enhanced the collections with specimens of birds, mammals, fish, etc.


Evolution and safeguarding

1888. Creation of the Zoological Institute by the illustrious scientist Édouard Van Beneden (1846-1910). He established the zoological collection there, maintaining, enriching and studying it. He developed scientific research in marine biology, oceanography, ichthyology, etc.

1914 et 1940. His successor, Désiré Damas (1877-1959), preserved and saved the zoological collections during the dark days of the two world wars. A professor in Bergen (Norway) and Director of the Norwegian Fisheries Department, he is regarded as the country's first oceanographer.



1947. Marcel Dubuisson (1903-1974), Professor of Zoology and Rector of the University, completely renovated the Zoological Institute. He reorganised the zoological collections into a vast 1,000 m2 museum. He greatly expanded research into marine biology, setting up laboratories and creating the Aquarium to keep alive the aquatic animals needed for research.

1962. Inauguration of the Aquarium and Museum to the public on 12 November: "(...) The Museum and Aquarium will be remarkable teaching and research aids, but I feel that they should be open to the public and especially to schoolchildren (...)" (M. Dubuisson).



The dissemination of scientific culture has been at the heart of the Aquarium-Muséum's missions since its inauguration over 200 years ago for academics and since 1962 for the general public. The Aquarium-Muséum is the only site in Belgium dedicated to both the aquatic world and the heritage of the natural sciences.  

The Council of Museums considers the Aquarium-Muséum to be the flagship institution of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation in the field of natural science museology, welcoming almost 100,000 visitors every year. The institution is founded on its mission to manage the museum, provide a service to the public, support teaching and expertise, and disseminate scientific culture and knowledge. 

Animal biodiversity is the watchword of the Aquarium-Muséum's living and Naturalia collections. Our essential missions today are:

  • mediating the natural sciences,
  • illustrating what we teach,
  • conserving and preserving the collections (and the well-being of the animals in the Aquarium),
  • to inspire wonder and interest in nature,
  • to promote a better understanding of environmental challenges
  • guarantee the scientific rigour of the information provided to the public,
  • support scientific research.

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