Search Help

Simple searches

To search for an item (or type of item) in all our collections, pick a word or phrase which describes what you are looking for, and type it into the box labelled Search all our collections on the Hunterian Collections search home page, and click the Search button.

To search a particular collection (e.g. Art), first choose the collection you want to search by clicking on the collection name or icon on the home page. This will take you to the main search form for that collection. On this page, type a word or phrase into the box labelled Keyword(s), then click the Search button.

For example, to search for all the items to do with fish, type "fish" into the box and then click on the button labelled Search. This search would return everything in the collection where the record contains the word "fish" somewhere; e.g. it might return information about:

fish specimens (in the zoology collections)

pictures or sculptures of fish (in the art collections)

fossil fish (in the geology collections)

The searches are not case-sensitive; so the search "FISH" will return exactly the same results as "fish" or even "fiSH".

Using AND, OR & NOT in searches

If you put several words in your search term, eg:

scotland agate jewellery

the search engine assumes that you want records containing all these terms, so will only return records with all three words in them. This is the same as typing:

scotland and agate and jewellery

However, you can use the logical terms AND, OR or NOT if you want. These words will have their usual logical meaning, so just use them as you would in normal english.

For example:

scotland or agate or jewellery

will return all the records containing any of the words "scotland", "agate" or "jewellery"; this will give lots of records with some connection with Scotland, but nothing to do with jewellery, but also lots of jewellery records that have nothing to do with Scotland.

Searching for:

Belgium and not Roman

will return all the records to do with Belgium which do not contain the word "Roman".

Using brackets in searches

If you wish to do more complicated searches using AND or OR, you will need to use brackets to make sure that the search engine does exactly what you want, just as in arithmetic you would use brackets to specify the meaning of a sum; 3 × (2 + 1) is not the same as (3 × 2) + 1

For example, supposing you want to find any specimens of smoky quartz or amethyst from Scotland; you might type in:

amethyst or smoky quartz and Scotland

This will actually retrieve all occurrences of amethyst (including specimens from outside Scotland), as well as all the records containing both "smoky quartz" and "Scotland".

To get the search you want, add brackets around the two things you want the "or" to apply to:

(amethyst or smoky quartz) and Scotland

In general, brackets are used to "group" expressions that should go together, just as in arithmetic.

Searching for an exact phrase

You can search for an exact phrase by enclosing it in quotation marks.

For example, you might search for:

Jack and Jill

This search would return all the records containing the words "Jack" and "Jill", but not necessarily together.

If you searched for:

"Jack and Jill"

however, the search would only return records containing the exact phrase "Jack and Jill".

Such searches can be combined with AND, OR or NOT in the usual way.

Using wildcards in searches

The characters * and ? are used as "wildcards".

A star(*) in a search term can be replaced by any number of letters. For example:


would return records that matched "Smith", "Smits", "Smithers", "Smithson" etc.

A question mark(?) can be replaced by any single letter, so searching for:


would return records matching "Smith" or "Smits", but not "Smithers" or "Smithson", and:


would return records matching "Smithe".

Using fields in searches

The search engine will normally check each object's entire record for search terms; this can sometimes lead to items being returned which do not appear to be relevant.

For example, in the numismatic collections, if you are looking for Greek coins, you might search for:

Greek or Greece

This search would return Greek coins, but it might also return medals with inscriptions in Greek, or where Greek scenes are portrayed...or indeed anything in the collection which was found in Greece.

The information stored about each item in the collections is divided into a number of different fields; you can avoid your search returning irrelevant records by specifying which fields you want the search engine to check.

The available fields are:

To use these fields in a search, include the phrase:


For example:

manufac has greece

will return all the objects which were created in Greece.

Field-limited searches can be combined with normal searches; for example, in the geology collections, the search:

geog has (Skye or Mull) and name has basalt

will return all the specimens of basalt which were discovered in Skye or Mull.

Searching for an item by catalogue number

Every object in the Hunterian's collections has a unique catalogue number. This number will usually start with "GLAHM" (for Museum objects) or "GLAHA" (for Art Gallery objects).

If you know the catalogue number of what you are looking for, type it (without the prefix, i.e. without "GLAHM" or "GLAHA") into the box labelled Museum number:, and click on the Search button beside this box.

For example, to search for the painting with catalogue number "GLAHA 46098" in the art collections, simply type:


into the Museum number box.

Illegal characters in search terms

Some characters, such as '$', or ':' are not recognised by the search engine and will cause an error.

Try to use only alphabetical characters (i.e. 'a'..'z' and 'A'..'Z' ), numbers and wildcard characters ('*' and '?').

For more information...

If you have any other queries about using the search pages, please email