At the heart of the University Museum are its unique collections, which has been assembled over a span of more than 250 years and that totals more than one and a half individual catalogued objects.
The collection includes everything from southern Sami artefacts to medieval coins to living plant collections in botanical gardens.
The zoological collections provide the foundation for understanding the organisms that were and are found in Norway. They form the basis for research in taxonomy and systematics, biogeography, conservation biology and environmental conditions.
The cultural history collections help us understand the conditions found in Norway and Europe from as early as 10,000 years ago, after the end of the last Ice Age, up to the present time.
Among the collections are:
- Vascular plant and moss herbaria, both of which are adding new specimens yearly and actively used in research.
- A limnic invertebrate collection one of the museum's most active zoological collections. It includes documentation of changes over time associated with dam building and regulation of Norway's watersheds.
- An insect collection of species from Norway and of threatened or endangered insects from abroad, which has particular value for on-going genetic studies.
- A collection of church art, which includes one of the world's largest collections of painted religious sculptures from the late Middle Ages, collected during the 19th centuries.
- A skeleton collection, with one of the best preserved collections of human skeletons from the Middle Ages in Europe.
- A coin collection, comprised of Norway's second largest numismatic collection, which includes some of the most important finds of coins from the Viking and Middle Ages.
- A Southern Sami ethnographic collection, one of the largest in the world, collected in the 18th and 19th centuries.
- Two botanical gardens, one in Trondheim and one in the Dovre mountains, roughly three hours south of Trondheim. The Ringve botanical garden in Trondheim provides a 32-acre common-garden setting for, among other things, trees and shrubs assembled from across the northern regions of the globe. The Kongsvoll alpine garden is a unique botanical collection at 1000 m above sea level, composed of native plants from the Dovrefjell region. Both gardens are open to the public.