This week we are shining a spotlight on the award-winning Wardlaw Museum, formerly the Museum of the University of St Andrews which has undergone a £2.1 million makeover and re-opens on 4th April.
The museum has been undergoing a massive transformation since 2018 to increase its size by 50%. The increase in floor space will enable it to display more extensive collections and increase its community outreach work as well as bringing in world-class exhibitions that maybe touring from other museums.
The Museum of the University of St Andrews (MUSA) was opened to the public in 2008 and in 2019 was renamed the Wardlaw Museum after the six-century-old institution’s founder and first chancellor Bishop Henry Wardlaw.
Four new thematic galleries
Gallery 1: Scotland’s First University
In 1413 a Bull of Foundation was secured from the Pope, confirming the foundation of Scotland’s first university in St Andrews. Over the centuries the University has embraced challenge and welcomed modernisation, including standing at the forefront of the campaign for a University education for women. Featuring iconic objects including the university’s medieval maces alongside a Raisin Weekend costume collected in 2017, this gallery explores the history and distinctive identity, sense of community, and student life of a university that embraces the full experience of living and learning.
Gallery 2: Enquiring Minds
Teaching and learning are central to any university, and this gallery focusses on the ways that models, instruments, artefacts and specimens have been used to investigate, record, and see things differently. The displays draw from across art and science, and feature at the centre a stunning display of microscope slides and butterflies.
Gallery 3: Reformers and Innovators
For more than 600 years, the University has drawn pioneering individuals to St Andrews to research and to learn. Ground-breaking discoveries, inventions, and ideas developed here have had a lasting impact on Scotland, and have changed the world. This gallery brings together objects relating to themes as diverse as photography, the development of LEDs, and the Reformation, to encourage visitors to think about those moments when new ideas can change everything.
Gallery 4: Expanding Horizons
Curiosity and a desire to investigate the unknown have inspired St Andrews staff, students and residents. Featuring objects collected from around the world, specimens from pioneering research into life in the deep oceans in the 1870s, and lunar rock samples sent from NASA to St Andrews in the 1970s for expert analysis, this gallery shows how St Andrews has always been global, and has contributed to an expanding and changing understanding of the human world, the natural world and the universe.
Temporary Exhibitions Space
A newly created space will host an exciting programme of digital projects and interactive experiences for all ages. The entrance area has been remodelled as well as the shop and a panoramic sea view awaits visitors from the Museum’s terrace and garden.
Temporary exhibitions planned for the remainder of this year include a photographic exhibition of 100 women by renowned photographer Anita Corbin and a display curated by students featuring a book created by photographer Julia Margaret Cameron in collaboration with the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson in 1875. There will also be a display of artwork by school children from across Fife this summer, inspired by the natural history collections.
Collections at the museum include around 115,000 objects of national and international interest, with a much broader selection on display in the new spaces, including some that have not been on display before; a Thai silver zodiac bowl, prototype LEDs developed in the 1970s, beautiful models of plants and flowers and a NASA telegram that accompanied moon rock samples sent to the university for analysis.
The Wardlaw Museum is due to re-open from Spring 2020, but keep an eye on their website for any updates. Opening hours will be Monday – Friday 11am – 7pm and Saturday & Sunday 10am – 5pm. The Museum will have accessibility for wheelchairs and welcomes assistance dogs. The Wardlaw Museum is easy to find on foot from the town centre. From the castle you can continue on along The Scores towards the golf course – the Museum is on the right hand side. Alternatively you can walk down Butts Wynd from North Street and the Museum can be found opposite the end of the lane at 7 The Scores, St Andrews KY16 9AR