Museum status for university collections

Wednesday 21 February 2001

The Museum Collections of the University of St Andrews have been awarded Registered Museum status.

The Museum Registration Scheme, operated by Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries, was established ten years ago and has become the quality standard for museums throughout the UK, setting minimum standards in collection care, public services and museum management.

St Andrews was Scotland’s first University and the institution’s personalities and teaching practices can be traced through the vast collections of documents, artworks, furniture, photographs, laboratory equipment and specimens which it has accumulated over the centuries.

In total, there are eight separate museum collections under the care of the Museum Collections unit – Heritage Collections; Ethnographic and Amerindian Collection; Bell Pettigrew Museum; Anatomy and Pathology Collections; Chemistry Collection; Psychology Collection; Geological Collection and Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments.

The Collections include many items dating back to the University’s very early days. For example, the Heritage Collections, which trace the changing life of the University and its role in Scottish education, include three spectacular mediaeval maces and the “black stone” on which students once sat for their final oral examination. Meanwhile, the Ethnographic and Amerindian Collection has a number of items which the University has accumulated from every corner of the world, including a Hindu sculpture which has been associated with the invention of the rubber golf ball because it was apparently packed in gutta percha. The Bell Pettigrew Museum features thousands of creatures – worms, molluscs, insects, fish, birds and mammals – illustrating the entire animal kingdom while the Geological Collection (the largest collection in the University) include tens of thousands of fossils, rocks and minerals from across the globe. The Anatomy and Pathology Collections include instruments and specimens relating to medicine. There are also a number of historic scientific instruments and collections relating to the teaching of chemistry, physics and astronomy and psychology.

Keeper of the University Museum Collections Professor Ian Carradice said, “I am pleased that the work of our unit has been recognised by the award of Registration. Over the last few years we have been investing time and money in the care of our collections, for example restoring or conserving art works, archaeological specimens and scientific instruments. The collections are used actively in teaching and research in art history, geology, biology, medicine and other subjects. We have also put on exhibitions in public venues in St Andrews and elsewhere and we are now exploring ways to increase public access to these collections, some of which are of international, as well as national or local significance.” The University Museum Collections are available for public viewing by appointment – telephone (01334) 462417. To view the zoological collections, call the Bell Pettigrew Museum on telephone (01334) 463498. Further information about the Museum Collections can be found at tml. Further information about Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries can be found at


NOTE TO EDITORS – A selection of photographs are available from Claire Grainger, contact details below.

Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information please contact Claire Grainger on 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or email [email protected] Ref: museum/standrews/chg/21feb2001

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