New funding to help bring University of Aberdeen collections to life online


25 February 2021
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The University of Aberdeen has been awarded nearly £44,000 to help bring to life its museum collections virtually as part of a Covid recovery grant.

The funding from the Museums Galleries Scotland COVID-19 Museum Development Fund will be used to appoint staff to 'substantially increase' the number of images of some of the important items in the University’s extensive museum collections. It will also support the creation of 3D images alongside the traditional 2D ones. These will be made available online, alongside digital events and other engagement.

The University of Aberdeen is the custodian of more than 300,000 museum items and its collections are internationally renowned and recognised as a collection of national significance by the Scottish Government, covering a wide range of material relating to Human Culture, Medicine and Health, and Natural Sciences.

New audiences

Dr Lisa Collinson, Academic Engagement and Research Lead, says the funding will support the expansion of digital activities to open up the collections to new audiences: “The Covid 19 pandemic has highlighted the vital role that museums and collections play in supporting wellbeing, and illuminating significant aspects of our lives.

“This funding will enable us to increase our digital activity as part of a long-term strategy, as well as responding to Covid restrictions. This grant will have a huge impact on how we can support teaching and research, as well as helping us to be ‘open to all’ – a commitment made at the foundation of our University 526 years ago.”

The University Museums & Special Collections team will work with a wide range of stakeholders to select elements from the vast collections which people most want to see or consider to be of the greatest benefit.

Susan Curran, Curator of Learning, Outreach and Student Engagement, said: “We will be working with partners including One Stop Shop Aberdeen, Grampian Regional Equality Council and North East Sensory Services, as well as academic and international communities, to explore their ideas, wishes, preferences and needs.

“The team will also identify priorities for digital development, and use these to guide the creation and sharing of hundreds of new digital images of collections items, and other digital activities.

“The support provided by this grant will enable us to make access to our collections more sustainable and can open them to international audiences and those for whom physical access to our collections is more challenging.”

The Museums Galleries Scotland’s COVID-19 Museum Development Fund was created to support institutions to deliver projects that will help museums build resilience and address some of the challenges brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Lucy Casot, CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland said: “We are delighted to support the University of Aberdeen through the COVID-19 Museum Development Fund as they embark on their exciting project to widen access to their extensive and nationally significant museum collections.

“University museums are key spaces that bridge academic research and teaching, community hubs, and visitor attractions. We are pleased to support the University Museums & Special Collections team in their work with partners and communities to expand on this unique position, and enable more people to engage with their fantastic collections.”