Alfred Denny came to Firth College - the predecessor of the University of Sheffield - as a biology lecturer in 1884 and stayed for 41 years. He became professor in 1888 and in 1905, when the university was granted its charter as an independent university, became the new University of Sheffield’s first professor of biology.
Alfred Denny was an excellent teacher and public speaker, one of his undergraduate students described him as “the best teacher in the college”. His course of public lectures on “Evolution and Adaptation in the Animal World”, drew an audience of over 600 people each night. He created this significant zoology collection to aid in his teaching.
Today the museum has been reduced in size and relocated to a room in the modern Alfred Denny Building which houses the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences.
In 2012 the Alfred Denny Museum was rejuvenated. This was in preparation for the museum's first opening to public which took place as part of the Festival of the Mind. It was achieved through the efforts of a team of student volunteers led by post-graduate student Louise Heaton, who continues to assist with the museum's curation, Dr Lynne Fox, the University Heritage Officer, and Professor Tim Birkhead, the museum's curator.
A brand new glass foyer ensures all displays and exhibits are now always visible to the student body.