Hunterian collection officially Recognised

Published: 26 June 2007

The University of Glasgow's Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery has been officially recognised under the Recognition Scheme as having a collection of national significance.

Hunterian collection officially Recognised The University of Glasgow's Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery has been officially recognised under the Recognition Scheme as having a collection of national significance.

For the first time, the Scottish Executive has formally recognised collections of national significance held by Scotland's non-national museums and galleries. The Scottish Museums Council, who manage the Scheme on behalf of the Scottish Executive, will also administer the funding for which such Recognised museums will be eligible to apply.

The Hunterian is Scotland's oldest public museum and following a careful refurbishment, now re-emerges as Scotland's newest museum, and the first to attain this important Recognition.

The Hunterian's foundation holdings were bequeathed to the University of Glasgow in 1783 by the eminent Scottish Enlightenment figure, Dr William Hunter, and represent an extraordinary legacy from the period. They are particularly important because of their age, origin and completeness.

Over the intervening centuries, Hunter's legacy has been supplemented by further highly significant collections of archaeology and antiquities, geology and fossils, entomology and scientific instruments, as well as extensive art collections of superb quality.

Of particular note and world-wide renown are prints from the Renaissance to the present day, major holdings by the Glasgow Boys, the Scottish Colourists, and the works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and James McNeill Whistler. The role of these collections, which now number in excess of 1,137,000 objects, has been distinctively enhanced through their presence, development and use, in the context of a major research led University over a period of some 200 years.

For all the criteria adopted within the Recognition Scheme, the Hunterian's holdings now can be seen as an outstanding example of a collection of National Significance, and of fundamental benefit to the life and culture of Scotland. The primary benefit to the University and to the Hunterian in gaining Recognition for its collections is independent endorsement at a national level of the quality and importance of its collection. The award has also been a great boost to staff morale, and gives a wonderful sense of validation to a team which is very proud of the collection for which they are custodians.

In the short term, Recognition will bring significant promotional benefit, and thereby enhance access for local, national and international audiences to the Hunterian. The City of Glasgow, and Scotland, will also benefit, through increased awareness of the cultural and heritage tourism infrastructure. In the medium to longer term there will be benefits to the collection as a result of improved status for funding applications.

The Hunterian will have the opportunity to bid for a share of the £1 million earmarked for the Recognition Scheme. In addition, Recognition will provide other funding bodies and donors with the confidence to invest in the collection.

Ewen Smith, Director of the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery said:

"We at the Hunterian are delighted that the international importance of Glasgow University's collections has been officially Recognised in this manner. I am particularly pleased that it has come at this time, as the Hunterian celebrates its bi-centenary.

The Hunterian and the University of Glasgow are highly supportive of this innovative Scheme and congratulate the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Museums Council on its successful implementation. The Recognition Scheme reinforces the importance of cultural heritage in Scotland, a key part of this University?s mission, and we look forward to the future potential profile and increased resources that are forecast within the Scheme."

Recognition is a Scottish Executive Scheme managed by the Scottish Museums Council. Visit the Hunterian Museum webpages for more information about the collections.

Harriet Gaston (

First published: 26 June 2007

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