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Edinburgh students to benefit from greater access to galleries

ByTom Wrench

Mar 10, 2015

The University of Edinburgh and the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) have drawn up an agreement, enabling students to have greater access to the nation’s vast and growing collections of sculpture, art and drawings.

The 30 thousand plus students at the University of Edinburgh will be able to work alongside the staff of the NGS’s portfolio of galleries including The Scottish National Gallery, The Scottish National Portrait Gallery and The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, all situated in Scotland’s capital city.

According to both the university and the NGS, it is also hoped that joint research projects between the two institutions can be undertaken, as well as “collaborative exhibitions” and the “pooling of resources” in studying Scottish art.

The pact was officially recognised last Tuesday (24th February) in a ceremony the Scottish National Portrait Gallery when A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, Vice Chancellor and Principal and Professor Mary Bownes, Vice Principal Community Development of the University of Edinburgh, and Ben Thomson and Sir John Leighton, chairman and director general of the National Galleries of Scotland respectively.

Professor Bownes believed that the agreement would be beneficial for both the university and the galleries.

She told The Student: “The Memorandum of Understanding with the galleries is part of a series of strategic alignments I am setting up across the city with major institutions.

“From the student perspective I think we will be encouraging more use of the collections by students, in the galleries and behind the scenes, we can set up collaborative exhibitions to give students exhibition experience or chances to display student work in the galleries.

“We would like to set up a student volunteering programme at the galleries on the side of engaging with the public and especially feel students from other cultures visiting the city could be ideal to show around visitors to the galleries in their own language […] there would be opportunities for a range of students not just those interested in curation or studying fine art.

“On the research student side there could be opportunities for science students as well as those in the arts and humanities […] as well as the more traditional research into painters or artists or art work and interpretation.

“We would also like to think of the many ways masters students might benefit from doing their dissertation in different environment gaining significant experience – they could also help in the area of digital collections. Artistic interpretation tools, for example.

“So I would very much welcome input from students as to the ways they feel they might be involved.”

The Scottish National Gallery is home to works by a large number of reputable artists such as Botticelli, Rembrandt, and J. M. W. Turner. Meanwhile, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery houses portraits of notable University of Edinburgh alumni including author Ian Rankin, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and poet George Mackay-Brown.

The University of Edinburgh itself is home to a number of galleries and museums including the Talbot Rice Gallery, founded in 1975 and located in Old College.

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