Welcome to the PSNS

The Perthshire Society of Natural Science (founded in 1867 and still going strong) exists to encourage interest in our environment, its nature and cultural heritage.

PSNS summer outing to Barry Buddon.

The Society consists of the parent body and four interest groups: Archaeological and Historical, Botanical, Ornithological and Photographic. Each group runs its own series of activities throughout the year with regular meetings in the Perth Museum and Art Gallery from October to April.

The parent body, which is open to all section members, covers any subject that falls under the broad umbrella of “Science”. The PSNS runs the “Curious Minds” lecture series in partnership with Culture Perth and Kinross. The talks take place on Friday evenings in the Soutar Lecture theatre of the A K Bell Library in Perth and are open to the public. Please take a look at the Curious Minds page of our website for more information.

For information on membership please see our 2016/17 membership form. NewJoiningForm2016

A page from Francis Buchanan White’s textbook on insect classification.

The PSNS was founded back in the mid 19th Century when “Natural History” was a popular hobby amongst the landed gentry and mercantile classes of Perth. They travelled the World (and Perthshire) and accumulated a vast trove of specimens – which eventually formed the backbone of the Natural History collection in Perth Museum.

Over the years, the Society has maintained its relationship with the Museum while evolving into a number of groups sharing a common interest in the Natural and Social History of Perth and the surrounding area.

CuriousPlease take a look at the various interest groups and also, feel free to exercise your brain at the “Curious Minds” lecture series. On Friday evenings over the Autumn and Winter you can hear some of the top scientists in Scotland explain their work, with no formulas and no jargon, in language we can all understand.

The History of the PSNS

The PSNS was founded in 1867, 8 years after the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species. The 1860s were a period of enormous public interest in the Sciences. Indeed, in 1867 Alfred Nobel patented Dynamite and Sir Joseph Lister announced his breakthrough in Antiseptic Surgery. It was fitting that the prosperous and ambitious City of Perth should form its own Scientific Society.  Lectures were organised for members and in the early decades there was an immense enthusiasm for collecting specimens of local flora and fauna, birds and insects.

The original PSNS museum on Tay Street.

At first the Society held its meetings in the Glovers’ Hall in George Street and in 1869 a room was secured at Kirkside as a store for the collections. Dr. Francis Buchanan White, first President of the Society, saw as one of its major objectives the erection of a museum to house these collections. In 1883 the Society was able financially to erect at 66 South Tay Street, a purpose-planned building which included a Library Room and a Museum Hall.

Dr. Francis Buchanan White. A well known naturalist and first President of the PSNS
IX, C2
The galleries of the Tay St Museum

Named in honor of Sir Thomas Moncreiffe, President of the Society from 1874 to 1879, the Museum was administered voluntarily by members of the Society. In 1903 the Society gifted its building in South Tay Street and its collections to Perth Town Council who, from then on, administered the Museum. The herbarium, local collections and exhibits of the Museum were moved to the extended Perth Museum and Art Gallery in 1935.

The collection on its way to the new Museum.

Over the decades the Society increased opportunities for members with more specific interests and there are now, within the Parent Body, four Sections – an Archaeological and Historical Section, a Botanical Section, an Ornithological Section and Perthshire Photographic Society (PSNS Photographic Section).


Tom Ryan, President, PSNS.