An 8,000 year-old buffalo spear, sacred miniature animal sculptures used to ask South American gods to increase flocks and rare Cryolite from a mine in Greenland with links to the Battle of Britain will be on display to the public for the first time in a new exhibition, One World, opening at MUSA in St Andrews on Thursday 14 January.
Spanning 6,000 BC to the present day, objects from every continent have been selected from MUSA’s collections to reveal the different environments, cultures and way of life of people throughout history.
Matthew Sheard, Learning and Access Curator at the University of St Andrews, said “Humans have made their homes in almost every part of the world, from the poles to the equator. In One World we’re exploring how different cultures have each responded to the challenges we all face, from conflict to commerce and fishing to farming.
“It’s exciting to highlight some of the rarely seen items from our collections. Many of the South American items, some of which come from the Inca Empire, have never been on public display before. The displays also include a set of spectacular 19th-century Indian glass paintings. These brightly-coloured artworks are extremely fragile and we have carefully conserved them over the past year. They were painted with gouache and gold leaf by Indian artists for the British in India and are known as “Company Paintings”. They give us a valuable insight into the cultural relationship between Indian artisans and British people during that period in history.
“Also on display will be objects that might surprise and intrigue our visitors, like Thai bullet coins, which are spherical in shape rather than the flat coins we recognise today.”
Objects such as a Moroccan butter churn made from recycled sardine tins, a common product in Morocco, are used to reveal how the environment has influenced cultures. Flags taken by the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen – the first man to cross Greenland in 1888 – on his expedition to reach the North Pole are just some of a number of objects in the exhibition which examine the University of St Andrews’ historic links with the world. In 1926 Nansen was elected Rector of the University of St Andrews.
One World will be supported by a programme of free events and workshops for all ages. These include a workshop for children about Aboriginal dot painting on 17 January. Children will learn how this ancient Australian art form was used in storytelling and mapping, and will have the opportunity to create their own painting during the activity session. Simon Chadwick will perform music from the Viking period on the bowed lyre instrument on 24 January, and MUSA curators will give a talk about the Indian glass paintings on 4 February.
For more information about the exhibition and events programme, please visit http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/musa/.
Notes to news editors
Press and photographers are welcome to preview the exhibition on Thursday 14 January between 10.30am and 11.30am.
Matthew Sheard will be available for interview and photos preparing the exhibits.
One World: Exploring Cultures Across Continents
14 January – 30 October 2016
Museum of the University of St Andrews (MUSA), 7a The Scores, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9AR
Winter opening hours
Until 31 March, MUSA is open to the public from Thursday to Sunday, 12pm to 4pm. From 1 April, MUSA is open from Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm, and from 12pm to 4pm on Sundays.
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