Scottish universities reveal hidden collections

Nine Scottish universities, 1.8 million objects, one single search

A £250,000 project unlocking the secrets of some of Scotland's greatest museum treasures went live for the first time on 28 October 2011. The Revealing the Hidden Collections project, a two-year collaboration between nine Scottish university museums, will enable over 1.8 million objects in some of the nation's most important collections to be searched through a dedicated website and through Google.

Scottish universities hold a high proportion of Scotland's nationally important collections - more than 1.8 million items, holding 32% of the country's materials on history of science, 31% of the nation's coins and medals, 24% of its fine art, 20% of natural science collections and 18% of its world culture collections. Collections in four universities, including the entire holdings of the Universities of Aberdeen and Glasgow, have recently been Recognised as nationally important. However, it has been difficult to discover what was in these collections. Each institution has its own unique databases, and not everything has been catalogued.

The Revealing the Hidden Collections project has brought these treasures into the light of the 21st century in a two-year project by a partnership of the University of Aberdeen, University of Dundee, University of Edinburgh, Glasgow School of Art, University of Glasgow, Heriot-Watt University, Robert Gordon University, University of St Andrews and the University of Stirling. They are all members of UMIS: University Museums in Scotland. The project was funded by a £240,000 SPIRIT grant from the Scottish Funding Council.

All collections are now searchable through the UMIS search portal at .

The project has created descriptions of all the Accredited museum collections in Scotland's universities. These records, alongside all existing electronic records relating to individual items many thousands of new records are now available through a single online search. Users will find over 2000 records that categorise groups of objects by a common theme, such as subject, geographical association, donor, or object type. There are also over 170,000 individual object entries providing information such as physical descriptions and provenance while 1000 images are being made available for selected objects.
The partnership with the Collections Trust has allowed project data to be searchable through the Culture Grid, via Google and through Europeana, a Europe-wide cultural database supported by the European Commission.

Jane Kidd, Curator of the Art and Heritage Collections at Robert Gordon University said "This has been a major piece of work for us all, but now students and the public can find out just what is owned by Scottish University museums, and access it all, in one place. The website is easy to use and should be a very useful tool in years to come"

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Katie Begg
Communications Officer | Aberdeen Business School

Robert Gordon University
AB10 1FR
Tel: 01224 262144