The planned reopening of the University of St Andrews’ flagship Wardlaw Museum scheduled for April following a £2.1 million overhaul has been postponed in light of the current Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Formerly known as the Museum of the University of St Andrews’ (MUSA), the extended and remodelled Wardlaw was due to open its first exhibition, Philip Colbert: The Death of Marat and the Birth of the Lobster. This was by St Andrews philosophy graduate turned neo-pop surrealist Colbert, and was set to run alongside highlights from the Museum’s extensive permanent collection.
Drawing on the University’s 115,000 or so objects of national and international significance featured in shows at both the Wardlaw and the Bell Pettigrew Museum of Natural History, when the Wardlaw eventually opens, it will feature work not previously seen on display. These include a Thai silver zodiac bowl, prototype LEDs developed in the 1970s, detailed models of flowers and plants, and a telegram from NASA that accompanied samples of moon rock sent to the University for analysis.
Dr Catherine Eagleton, Director of Museums at the University, said: “The new museum will take visitors inside the University. Exhibitions will draw on the 600-year history of the University as well as the world-leading research being done at St Andrews. We have ambitious future plans for exhibitions, digital projects, and research and teaching at the museums, and plan to innovate and experiment and continuously push ourselves to surprise audiences.”
Named after the University’s founder and first chancellor, Bishop Henry Wardlaw, the museum has been completely reimagined over the last two year’s development. Now expanded by fifty per cent, newly named galleries including the Drysdale Gallery and the Albany Gallery have been realised with the help of more that £1.3 million pounds’ worth of philanthropic donations.
Future temporary exhibitions planned include a photographic exhibition of one hundred women by Anita Corbin. There will also be a display curated by students on the University’s Museums and Galleries course. This will feature a book created in 1875 by photographer Julia Margaret Cameron in collaboration with poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
Speaking prior to the postponement, Dr Eagleton said that “Over the next three years we will deliver an exciting programme of events and educational activities, and the Wardlaw Museum will be open seven days a week. People can keep an eye on our social media and website, or sign up to our email newsletter for the latest information on what’s coming up.”
A rescheduled opening date for the Wardlaw Museum will be announced as soon as possible.
Scottish Arts News Online, Spring 2020