This week Museum and Gallery Studies student Katie Mercer gives us a peek into the creation of our next exhibition:
I am a Museum and Gallery Studies student who has been working with nine others to prepare an exhibition for one of our course requirements. The exhibition is called ‘Elements of Genius: The Legacy of Chemistry in St Andrews’ and will be in the Gateway Galleries from 19th March-21st May. A year of celebrations for the university, the topic was chosen to highlight the illustrious history of the chemistry department in St Andrews, celebrating its 200th anniversary in this its 600th year.
The group was initially a little daunted at the prospect of embarking upon such a task, with very little knowledge of chemistry ourselves! I think, however, that we have risen to the challenge. It was decided in our first meeting that the entire group thought it best to focus on the important roles that individuals have played in the chemistry department as we felt that this would make the exhibition interesting for both visitors and ourselves. This has enabled us to tell the ‘story’ of the department. The exhibition begins with the creation of the chemistry department in 1811, charting the emergence of vital research, changing attitudes to chemistry, and the influence which this research and teaching has had upon the wider world. We have been fortunate enough to be able to select our display objects from the University’s Chemistry Collection, designated as a Recognised collection of national significance
Selecting the objects for display has been a tricky business, and if there was sufficient space I am sure we would have displayed much more. A few of our highlights are rare pieces of chemical equipment, some dating from the late 1700s, samples, photographs and even a working experiment! In addition to these pieces we will soon be assisting the Museums Collections staff in a military-style move of a rarely-viewed portrait from the university Senate Room.
With less than two weeks now until our opening, preparations are becoming more urgent, stress levels are increasing, deadlines are looming, but it is all coming together and promises to have an explosive reaction befitting the department’s Elements of Genius.