The museum is named for Monte Lafayette Bean, a self-made Seattle-based magnate who entirely funded and paid for the museum building's construction. He also donated many of his own animal trophies to the collection. The Bean Museum opened in 1978, and is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. It maintains collections of vascular and non-vascular plants, and invertebrate and vertebrate animals. Before 1978, it was known as the BYU Life Sciences Museum and did not have its own building. The Bean Museum now houses the Liger Shasta that lived Hogle Zoo from when she was born on May 6, 1948, till when she died, on July 12, 1972.
Admission to the three-story museum is free of charge and over 100,000 unique visitors come to see the over 2 million specimens of insects, plants, reptiles, fish, shells, and birds.