The Hunterian would not have such a rich and important collection without the generosity of donors. The very establishment of the museum in 1807 followed Dr William Hunter's bequest of his substantial collections to the University of Glasgow.

We benefit enormously from bequests and our role is to preserve gifts of this kind for future generations.

The University of Glasgow houses the world's largest collection of the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. These holdings are centred on the architect's Estate and the Davidson Gift.

The Estate, 1947
Mackintosh died in 1928 and his Estate passed to his wife, Margaret Macdonald. Following her death in 1933, the Estate was cared for by the couple's friend and loyal patron, William Davidson, for whom Mackintosh had designed Windyhill in 1900. Following Mr Davidson's death in 1945, the Mackintoshes' heir Sylvan McNair transferred ownership of the Estate to the University of Glasgow. The Estate included over 800 works on paper and a small but important archive of photographs, papers and publications.

The Davidson Gift, 1946
In 1920, William Davidson had purchased 78 Southpark Avenue, the Mackintoshes' Glasgow home, from the couple who were by then living in London. The purchase included the Mackintosh designed furniture and fixtures. Following Mr Davidson's death in 1945, his sons, Hamish and Cameron, gifted all of the Mackintosh contents to the University in memory of the Mackintoshes and their father. At the same time the University purchased the property.

Subsequent Additions
Since the 1940s many important additions have been made to the Collection, through gifts, bequests, and purchase.

The University of Glasgow houses the world's largest public display of Whistler's art, and a major resource for the study of Whistler's life and times. These holdings are centred on the artist's Estate.

Whistler bequeathed his Estate to his ward, Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873 – 1958), a younger sister of his late wife, Beatrix. Miss Philip subsequently gifted and bequeathed the art collection, and Whistler's personal collections of decorative art and memorabilia, to the University of Glasgow in 1935 and 1958 respectively.

Glasgow was chosen for several reasons, including Whistler's Scottish ancestry; the support in his lifetime of the painters the Glasgow Boys which led to the purchase by the city in 1891 of Whistler's portrait of Thomas Carlyle; and, in 1903, shortly before his death, the decision by the University of Glasgow to award Whistler the honorary degree of Doctor of Law.

In addition, in 1954 Miss Philip presented the University with an important archive of over 4,000 letters as well as catalogues, press cuttings, photographs, books and memorabilia. This archive is housed in the Special Collections Department of the University Library. Important additions have since been made to both holdings.