For most students the prospect of graduating is both terrifying and exciting: their time spent in the ‘bubble’ of St Andrews is about to come to an end and entry into the real world is imminent. Every June and November, the graduation ceremonies held in Younger Hall mark the end of student-dom for hundreds of graduates. As is fitting, these ceremonies are impressive, formal and adrenaline-filled (no one wants to be the person who trips onstage, or who nearly strangles themselves by standing up just as the Chancellor places the gown’s hood over their neck!).
The new exhibition at MUSA explores the theme of graduation at the University of St Andrews.
The title of the exhibition, May they always Flourish, is the English translation of the official University song Guadeamus Igitur, which is sung at graduation ceremonies. The exhibition showcases items linked to the theme of graduation at the University. For January only, the University’s three modern maces are on display next to their medieval counterparts, offering visitors the rare opportunity to see all six maces together outside of the official graduation ceremonies.
For many people the most striking element of graduation is the colourful (and sometimes confusing!) array of academic gowns and hoods worn by different graduands and academics. May They Always Flourish shows off the beautiful academic gowns worn by both the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor. A selection of academic hoods is also presented, along with an explanation of how their varying colours and linings signify the attainment of different degrees from the University.
The Chancellor and Principal play a significant part of the ceremony, and official portraits of both Sir Menzies Campbell and Professor Louise Richardson have been hung in the gallery. These paintings offer a tantalising glimpse of the University’s wide-ranging art collection. [A selection of artwork from the University’s impressive collection is currently on display in a beautiful new exhibition at the Gateway Galleries.]
A short video of a graduation ceremony in June 2013 is played in the gallery, complete with the organ music which accompanies the event, allowing visitors to ‘get inside’ the experience of graduation.
The new exhibition certainly does justice to its theme, and offers a fascinating insight into one of the most exciting moments for a St Andrews student.