The University of Aberdeen Visiting Scholar Awards – now open for applications

Funded by the Friends of Aberdeen University Library and the Special Collections Centre

The University of Aberdeen Visiting Scholar Awards are available to academic researchers wishing to travel to Aberdeen to make use of our historic collections for innovative research.

The University of Aberdeen’s rich and diverse holdings consist of over 230,000 rare books, some 5,000 archive collections, and over 300,000 museum artefacts and scientific specimens. The disciplinary range is wide, with particular strengths in eighteenth and nineteenth-century English and Scottish literature, history, anthropology, archaeology, fine art, the history of science and medicine, and the natural and life sciences. (For details, see and

The Awards provide financial support of up to £2,000 to cover expenses incurred over a period of two to four weeks while pursuing a research project directly relating to the University’s collections. Visiting Scholars will be given access to the collections in the collections research facilities of the Sir Duncan Rice Library and Marischal College, and will contribute to Friends of Aberdeen University Library and Museums and Special Collections activities. Applications for both traditional academic and creative, practice-based forms of research are welcome.

We warmly encourage applications from researchers from a diverse range of backgrounds, and applications will be considered using a ‘name-blind’ selection process.

The awards are funded by the Friends of Aberdeen University Library, administered by the Aberdeen Humanities Fund, and hosted by University of Aberdeen Museums and Special Collections. Applications will be assessed by a panel consisting of representatives of these three bodies, and confirmed by an external assessor. Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their applications by email.

Full details can be found on the application form, see here.

The application deadline for the current round is 12 noon, 1 March 2019.

For details on previous Visiting Scholars please see the Special Collections website.

Library talk tomorrow: William Elphinstone and Scotland’s First Books

elphinstoneIf you are Interested in the history of books and the history of the University of Aberdeen you are in for a treat tomorrow evening. In conjunction with the Special Collections Centre’s current exhibition, Elphinstone: Renaissance in the North, there will be a talk tomorrow evening (26 February) by Professor Jane Stevenson, Regius Chair of Humanity, in the Seminar Room on the lower ground floor of The Sir Duncan Rice Library.

The talk begins by asking ‘what is an early Scottish book’? After a brief look at the history of books in Scotland, Professor Stevenson will turn to a consideration of the first Scots to be involved with printing and publication, and the involvement of Bishop Elphinstone with Scotland’s first press. The talk will also look at Elphinstone as an author and a book-owner.

The hour-long talk will begin at 6pm tomorrow evening and there is no booking required. Further details available here.

Ewan Grant,

Extended opening hours – The Sir Duncan Rice Library now open later on Fridays

As the new academic year begins we would like to let all of our users know that they are now able to study in The Sir Duncan Rice Library, on Fridays, until 10pm during term-time. This means that on Fridays TSDRL is now open two hours later than previously.

To see the opening hours across all our libraries and museums please see our website.


Ewan Grant,

King’s Museum door is now open!

King's Museum

King's Museum

If you’ve been walking along the High Street in Old Aberdeen recently then you may have seen that the new King’s Museum at No. 17 is now open! Neil Curtis, Head of Museums, and the University Museums team have at last been able to display a very special selection of the University’s many extraordinary objects, which go on show after months of intensive planning and preparation. The launch of this inviting wee exhibition space has received a great deal of  media coverage, featuring in the Press and Journal and Evening Express as well as on STV, NorthSound 2 and Original 106 FM.

King’s Museum is a place for the whole community. Entry is free, and all are invited inside to enjoy some of the treasures from the University’s 500 years of collecting. Some are stunning, some are strange and many are surprising! The exhibition area is the perfect size to pop in as you’re passing by on the High Street, and there are even seats and tables where you can bring a drink or snack if you fancy a slice of culture with your cuppa! 

King's College Mace, Aberdeen 1650 and Painting of King's College from the South East by James Cassie, 1848

We’re keen to make this as engaging and interactive a place as possible and will be offering a increasing variety of events and opportunities for students, staff, schools and the wider public to get involved with this local trove of history and heritage.  Look out for frequent updates on exhibitions, workshops and projects, or visit for the latest news.

In the few short weeks since opening on April 18th the new museum has welcomed well over 500 visitors.   The opening exhibition, ‘100 Curiosities’ displays 100 objects from the collection, selected by 100 people who each wrote 100 words to explain their chosen item’s significance. Ranging from the silver ceremonial mace of King’s College and a fossil Cretaceous mosasaur to a Pictish carved stone and a confiscated tiger penis, the objects show the variety of items that the university has looked after for hundreds of years.   The people who have chosen them are almost as diverse, including university academics and students, local adults and children, overseas donors and experts, artists, authors and poets. Among the many visitors, Sheena Blackhall, the well-known North-East poet has written poems inspired by the exhibition, which are now on display in the museum.  

Neil Curtis, Head of Museums explains, “Although this exhibition was inspired by 17th and 18th century cabinets of curiosity, I hope that the exhibition shows the continuing importance of curiosity as we try to understand the meanings of objects. It has been fascinating to see the variety of ways in which people’s curiosity have been inspired by the collection”  

Curious? Come in and see for yourself!

King’s Museum is open on weekdays (9.30-4.30) and Saturdays (11-4).   
Tel: 01224-274330

Georgia Brooker,

New King’s Museum opens in Old Aberdeen

A new museum in the heart of Old Aberdeen, opposite the historic King’s College Chapel, opened on 18 April.

The opening exhibition is titled “100 Curiosities”. It is inspired by the ‘History of the World in 100 objects’ project of the British Museum and BBC, but also the title of an early 19th century catalogue of  ‘the principal curiosities natural and artificial preserved in the museum’.

Read more about the new museum and the “100 Curiosities” exhibition here.

Elaine Shallcross

University museum wins funding for a new gallery

A museum initiative at the University of Aberdeen became one of 13 museum and gallery projects to be awarded a share of £750K of capital funding by Museums Galleries Scotland recently.  The fund is specially targeted at capital projects that are designed to improve the visitor experiences to Scotland’s Recognised Collections of National Significance.

The £85,000 award will go towards a new gallery in the heart of the main campus that will allow visitors from the University and wider community to enjoy the University’s ‘Recognised Collection’. Plans for this exciting cultural space include a temporary exhibition gallery, a display highlighting some of our outstanding collections and an education space for schools.

The gallery, which will be housed in the former Clydesdale Bank building in the High Street, should be welcoming visitors before the end of the year.

[extracted from the Museums Galleries Scotland press release, 24 March 2010]