Photos of Fife… with a difference

What's it like to move to a new place? A new country? To suddenly find yourself in a culture with a totally different way of life and thinking? MUSA's Encountering Fife project has revealed some of the answers to these questions. Seven migrants studying English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) with Fife Council have teamed … Continue reading Photos of Fife… with a difference


Raisin Monday 70s Style

Miriam, a member of MUSA staff, interviews Ashley and Kathleen, two St Andrews alumni about their Raisin Weekend experiences.  Kathleen studied French and German at St Andrews from 1976 to 1980, living in Andrew Melville Hall. Ashley studied Divinity from 1978 to 1982, living in St Salvator’s Hall. Kathleen was Ashley’s academic mother. Today they … Continue reading Raisin Monday 70s Style

37 prizes and 8000 cotton buds!

It's over once again. After the months of preparation, weeks of admin, exhausting hours of energetic schools sessions and the all-too short minutes of seeing (mostly) happy children receive their prizes, the MUSA Young Artist Award is over for another year. Last night we gave 37 prizes to 37 children whose artworks were selected from the 903 sent … Continue reading 37 prizes and 8000 cotton buds!

If objects could talk: Free’s a Chalmer

Today we continue our consideration of what objects could tell us if they could talk with this beautiful little brooch created in 1843.  The brooch has on the front a number of gravestones with a burning bush behind and a number of years around the edge.  On the reverse is the following inscription: THE / … Continue reading If objects could talk: Free’s a Chalmer

If objects could talk: The faceless Professor

The University of St Andrews cares for over 112,000 objects and artworks.  Some of them are fairly new, some of them are literally millions of years old.  We often think about objects in terms of how they were used, who created them or where they came from, but we rarely think about the stories behind … Continue reading If objects could talk: The faceless Professor

A Week in the Life of a Curatorial Trainee

From the University’s IncomparaBubble blog, our Trainee Curator Deirdre Mitchell shares a day in the life.


Deirdre photoBy Deirdre Mitchell, alumna (MA Hons Scottish History 2012), and Curatorial Trainee (Collections)

As a Curatorial Trainee at MUSA I get the chance to work with the 112,000 objects which make up the University of St Andrews’ collection. It’s a large and varied collection which ranges from historic scientific instruments to contemporary Scottish art, with lots in between! My job is just a varied as the collection I work with and can include anything from cleaning objects, moving paintings and keeping object records updated to planning exhibitions and giving gallery tours. It’s a great opportunity to gain a wide range of practical experience and there’s never a dull moment because you never quite know what you’re going to be doing next! Here are just some examples of what I’ve been up to in just one week recently.


One of my main roles is to help with the management of…

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Reflections from a done-in curator

Phew! These last few months the Learning & Access team have been running a race. Not a hundred metre sprint, a marathon.  The Young Artist Award this year has been on the theme of sport and we've all been sweating like billy-o to deliver some high quality workshops.  We finished the race on Friday and are … Continue reading Reflections from a done-in curator

A Common Wealth of Artefacts.

The birch basket, probably from the Hudson Bay or James Bay areas of Canada.
The birch basket, probably from the Hudson Bay or James Bay areas of Canada.

The theme of the StAnza poetry festival this year is ‘A Commonwealth of Poetry’. As part of this, poets from Commonwealth countries have been asked to write something in response to an artefact from the University’s collection that originates from their country. The first is inspired by this birch basket which was probably made by the Cree people of Canada in the early 1700s.

It is made from a single piece of birch and the white bits around the top of the basket, which you can just make out in the photograph, are porcupine quills.

the StAnza Blog

One of our collaborations this year with MUSA connects with our 2014 theme of A Common Wealth of Poetry. When we learned that MUSA (the Museum of the University of St Andrews) had a collection of fascinating artefacts from a range of Commonwealth countries, we set out to find poets willing to provide a short poem in response to each of these. The first to agree, and to provide a poem, was Chris Gilpin from Vancouver, Canada. The artefact to which is is responding is now on show at MUSA in St Andrews and he has provided a sound file of his poem to accompany this. You can listen to the poem at MUSA, while admiring the item to which it responds, or listen online at Other artefacts which feature in the collaboration come from Tonga, Zambia and India. Images of the artefacts and all the poems responding…

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