The Gallery

Exterior of GalleryThe Gallery represents an important public venue for visitors to the University and the Sir Duncan Rice Library to engage with the collections and be inspired.

Situated on the Ground Floor entrance to the Sir Duncan Rice Library, the Gallery is the primary venue for our ongoing programme of exhibitions showcasing multiple aspects of the University’s Special Collections. The space has been designed to be dynamic and accessible, offering opportunities to present enlightening and inspiring exhibitions that make connections to our collections. The exhibitions are designed to have a broad appeal and to be of interest to a wide public audience.

The Exhibitions Programme has enabled the exposure of rare and precious items from the Special Collections to a public audience in a substantial and meaningful way. The Special Collections Centre works closely with local schools and community groups to amplify the impact of the exhibitions to schools and community groups. The Gallery is a dedicated space for presenting culture as expressed through visual art and the written word through free and publicly accessible exhibitions and programming.

An associated public programme enhances the exhibitions through publicly accessible talks and activities facilitated by academic staff and invited speakers, presented free of charge.

Print Shop Window Waterlines Set in Silver

Please use the following link to find out more information about current exhibitions at the Sir Duncan Rice Library http://www.abdn.ac.uk/library/about/special/exhibitions/


19 Sept - 30 Sept 2016

The Scotstyle pop-up exhibition celebrates the top 100 buildings from 1916 to 2015, chosen by the Scottish public. This Scotland-wide tour showcases the best of Scotland's architecture, both historic and recent. The selection of the 100 buildings was made by public nomination, informed by an expert panel. Over the course of the year, the public have been voting for their favourite Scottish building from the last 100 years. The votes cast so far have now been tallied up to reveal the Top 10. Cast your vote for the winning building in The Gallery at The Sir Duncan Rice Library from the following list:

St Conan’s Kirk, 1930
India Tyre and Rubber Factory, 1930
Rothesay Pavilion, 1938
Hermit’s Castle, 1950
Dundee Repertory Theatre, 1982
Princes Square, 1987
National Museum of Scotland, 1998
Dundee Contemporary Arts, 1999
The Scottish Parliament, 2004
Pier Arts Centre, 2007

The winner will be announced at the Festival of Architecture Finale on 18 November 2016.


Best of the Best: Scotland's Award-Winning Buildings, Places and Communities 

19 Sept - 30 Sept 2016

Running alongside the Scotstyle exhibition is a touring display that showcases more of Scotland's award-winning architecture. The Best of the Best features 132 projects from the past five years - including The Sir Duncan Rice Library. The projects were selected by eight national organisations including The Scottish Civic Trust, The Scottish Ecological Design Association, The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland and The Saltire Society. The exhibition enables visitors to see all major architecture and place awards gathered in a single display and to explore and comment on what makes good places and buildings.

Gallery Opening Times:

Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat: 10am to 5pm

Thursday: 10am to 7pm

Sunday: 11am - 5pm


The Gallery, The Sir Duncan Rice Library, Bedford Road, Aberdeen, AB24 3AA
For more information, please contact scc.events@abdn.ac.uk

Lure of the Lost­ - Film Screening and Conversation with Artist Anthony Schrag and Director Stuart Armitt

Wednesday 5 October, 6-7pm FREE event

On St Anthony’s day, 14 July 2015, only two days after submitting his PhD thesis, artist Anthony Schrag set out from the Aberdeenshire town of Huntly on a 2,500 km ‘contemporary pilgrimage’ to the Venice Biennale. Walking for 110 days through Britain, France, and Switzerland, crossing the Alps on the way, Anthony set out to question the relative absence of social practice visible at an event viewed by the art world as a near-sacred destination for contemporary artists. In the process, Lure of the Lost became a project as much about the exploration of loneliness and hospitality, endurance and doubt, as it was about the politics and aesthetics of Venice.

Stuart Armitt’s film combines footage recorded by Armitt on several visits he made to Anthony along the route with Anthony’s own documentation of the journey. The result is a highly personal and evocative insight into the Lure of the Lost story.

Anthony will introduce the screening, which will be followed by a conversation between the artist, the director, and Alan Macpherson, a PhD candidate at the University of Aberdeen who has written a number of essays for Deveron Arts, the Huntly-based organisation behind the Lure of the Lost project. The conversation will be open to questions from the audience.

After this opening event, the film will be shown on continuous loop in The Gallery in The Sir Duncan Rice Library from 6 - 16 October.


Gallery Opening Times:

Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat: 10am - 5pm

Thursdays: 10am - 7pm

Sundays: 11am - 5pm


Stuart Armitt is a freelance photographer and filmmaker based in Edinburgh. Since graduating from Napier University in 2011, he has developed strong relationships with a number of artists and large-scale organisations, and works both nationally and internationally. From individual artists to theatre, dance and arts companies, his work is explored from a highly theoretical and critical perspective, as well as a personal, intuitive context. He is currently engaged with Edinburgh International Festival, guiding and contributing to various media platforms throughout the festival.



Anthony Schrag was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in the Middle East, UK, Canada and is currently based somewhere in Scotland. He has worked nationally and internationally, including residencies in Iceland, USA, Canada, Finland, Holland and South Africa. He doesn’t do many exhibitions because he is conflicted about ‘objects’ and is afraid of the permanence they suggest. Instead, he works in participatory manner, and central to his practice is a broader discussion about the place of art in a social context.

Anthony has been the recipient of numerous awards including The Hope Scot Trust, Creative Scotland, British Council, the Dewar Arts Award, the 2011 Standpoint Futures: Public residency award, as well as a Henry Moore Artist Fellowship. Last year, he walked 2638 km from the north of Scotland to the Venice Biennale to explore the place of participatory artworks within the public realm. His practice-based PhD explores the relationship between artists, institutions and the public, looking specifically at the productive nature of conflict. 

www.anthonyschrag.com; https://theartpilgrimage.wordpress.com/


Alan Macpherson is a freelance writer and PhD candidate in English and Visual Culture at the University of Aberdeen. His thesis addresses a series of encounters in Kathleen Jamie’s writing, alongside critical and theoretical approaches to literature and the environment. He teaches on the English and Literature in a World Context programmes at Aberdeen. 



Contact: scc.events@abdn.ac.uk to book or for further information.


An Audience with Charles Dickens: Writer, Performer, Celebrity
03 March to 11 September 2016

The Special Collections Centre has a unique collection of all 15 first editions of the novels of Charles Dickens - many of them collected at the time of publication. 'An Audience with Charles Dickens' marked the first time that all 15 books had been displayed together.


The University's Special Collections Centre has one of the most distinguished collections of books by and about Dickens anywhere in the world. The exhibition celebrated this and provided a glimpse into the life and times of one of the world's most renowned authors and personalities.


Inspired by his two visits to Aberdeen, it explored the theme of Dickens not only as a writer but also as a performer of his own work. In 1858 and 1866 Dickens travelled to Aberdeen, performing dramatic extracts from Dombey and Son, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield and The Pickwick Papers to delighted crowds at the Music Hall. In addition to the first editions, the exhibition included reproductions of playbills from the period and audio extracts of the four readings to evoke the appearance and atmosphere of the theatre stages that became Charles Dickens's favourite platform for the delivery of his stories.


The exhibition was accompanied by an engaging programme of public talks and events.


The exhibition was produced in collaboration with Dr Paul Schlicke and with the generous support of the Friends of Aberdeen University Library.

City of Ghosts: A dialogue with George Washington Wilson

15 Oct 2015 to 21 Feb 2016

This exhibition features a suite of contemporary photographs by John Perivolaris that pay homage to George Washington Wilson and the city he depicted.

In March 2015, when John Perivolaris embarked on a project to revisit and re-photograph some of the locations documented by George Washington Wilson over a hundred years earlier, he was less concerned with standing in the exact spot on which his Victorian counterpart had set up his camera. Instead, his aim was to create a sequence of contemporary images that would resonate with the past not simply attempt to replicate it.

It soon became clear that several of Wilson’s vantage points had disappeared or were now difficult to find, obscured by the barriers and security devices which regulate movement in contemporary cities. Compensation was to be found in the sweeping panoramas opened up by the roofs of Aberdeen’s numerous multi-storey car parks.

The resulting photographs pay homage to George Washington Wilson, not only in seeking out comparable vistas, but through the use of an analogue camera and traditional techniques of production (silver bromide printing). In doing so, they capture the essence of a time past and a new presence for the city of Aberdeen. Set against a selection of reproductions from Wilson’s glass plate negatives and a soundscape created by Professor Pete Stollery, Chair of Music at Aberdeen University, the exhibition establishes a dialogue between an Aberdeen past and present.

Search the Special Collections George Washington Wilson Archive at http://www.abdn.ac.uk/historic/gww/


The Far North – Frozen Stars, Shifting Ice and the Silence Beyond
03 April to 20 September 2015

This exhibition explores the idea of the The Far North through contemporary art and music, historical artefacts and written words.

The Far North has been a place of fascination since the first travellers’ tales of otherworldly icebergs and the Northern Lights reached the temperate zones, and the first treasures of amber and narwhal ivory were sent southwards... more

Elphinstone: Renaissance in the North
2 October 2014 to 15 March 2015

This exhibition marks the 500th anniversary of the death of the founder of the University of Aberdeen, William Elphinstone (1431 – 1514), and explores the impact of his life on the history of Scotland.

Elphinstone’s distinguished career, in which he excelled as statesman, diplomat, lawmaker and churchman, ensured that his legacy within the region and beyond was far-reaching. Elphinstone commissioned major building and infrastructure work in Aberdeen, including the construction of King’s College Chapel and improvements to St Machar’s Cathedral, while every day, traffic still thunders across the bridge he endowed over the River Dee... more

New Found Land: Scottish Emigration to Canada
2 May to 31 August 2014

This exhibition uses items from the Special Collections Centre to review stories of emigration from Aberdeen and Scotland to Canada.

Scotland’s population has been its most enduring and consistent export. Scotland’s diaspora was is of global dimensions, but Canada was the destination that was for long periods closest to the hearts of many emigrants... more

Print Shop Window poster

Print Shop Window: An Exhibition of Visual Satire
27 September 2013 to 26 January 2014

Print Shop Window: An Exhibition of Visual Satire explores the power of cartoons to satirise public figures and stimulate political debate. Set during the reign of George III, the ‘Golden Age of Caricature’, the exhibition draws on a lively selection of satirical prints and material from the Special Collections, featuring examples of caricatures by the artists William Hogarth, James Gillray and George Cruikshank... more

Wanderlust: Travel Journals and Explorers' Notes
27 April to 14 September 2013

The exhibition at the Gallery of the Sir Duncan Rice Library features vivid writing contained in some of the travel journals and explorers' notebooks held with the University's Special Collections.

Wanderlust describes a yearning for distant places; an irrepressible compulsion to discover the unknown. Travel journals survive in many shapes and sizes. Spanning four centuries, not only do these writings give evidence of that compulsion to go beyond the horizon, but they also open an intimate window into lost worlds.

Waterlines: Will Maclean and Marian Leven
19 January to 14 April 2013

Waterlines was created through the artistic partnership of Will Maclean and Marian Leven, the first sculptural collaboration between two of Scotland’s most highly regarded and well established artists. The exhibition features items from the Special Collections and Museums at the University of Aberdeen... more

Pharmacopoeia: The Art of Making Drugs
1 September to 1 December 2012

In celebration of the British Science Festival 2012, the Special Collections Centre at the University Library will host Pharmacopeia - an exhibition featuring rare and fascinating printed and manuscript material that demonstrates some of the earliest recorded interpretations of the natural sciences - a history of health... more

Bestiary exhibition

Gilded Beasts: Exhibition of The Aberdeen Bestiary
23 June to 18 August 2012

The third exhibition in the University Library's Gallery is of the Aberdeen Bestiary - an exquisite illuminated manuscript from the 12th-century, rendered in rich gold and magnificent colour. It is a work of extraordinary artistry and craftsmanship in which tales of animals are used to illustrate essential moral beliefs... more

Set in Silver: Contemporary Reflections on Glass Plate Photography
24 March to 3 June 2012

A selection of the glass plate negatives that form the substantial collections of George Washington Wilson and the Aberdeen Harbour Board have produced a set of fine photographic prints that will be exhibited by the Special Collections Centre at the University Library in Set in Silver: Contemporary Reflections on Glass Plate Photography. The images seen across both collections demonstrate a distinctive application of this delicate art... more

Rebels with a Cause poster

Rebels with a Cause: The Jacobites and the Global Imagination
24 November 2011 to 17 March 2012

The first exhibition at the University of Aberdeen’s striking new library will give visitors an insight into the turbulent Jacobite era. Rebels with a Cause: The Jacobites and the Global Imagination is the inaugural exhibition at The Gallery - a new publicly accessible venue which forms part of the University’s Special Collections Centre... more

A Catechism of the Laws of Storms

John Burnside & Will Maclean

15 September - 4 December 2016

An evocative exhibition of prints featuring 12 poems by John Burnside with accompanying illustrations by Will Maclean. The exhibition is situated in the Event Space adjacent to the Library Gallery.


John Burnside’s poetry and Will Maclean’s imagery first came together in a collaborative print–poem commissioned for the opening of Dundee Contemporary Arts in 1999. A Catechism of the Laws of Storms is a continuation of their joint projects.

Some years ago Maclean found some dis-bound copies of an illustrated weekly newspaper The Pictorial World of 1882–83 and used the woodcut images to assemble a series of collages, which were then scanned and digitally altered.

The series of collages related to descriptions of storms and hurricanes from nautical books and manuals in Maclean’s collection, in particular ‘The Law of Storms’ by Henry Paddington. The collages were shown to Burnside who composed a series of twelve poems in response to the images. Maclean in turn altered a number of the images in response to the poems.


Purchasing work from the exhibition

Limited edition boxed sets of the 12 print-poems are available to purchase. The individually framed prints are also available to purchase, but may not be removed until the end of the exhibition. For further information about purchasing individual prints or a boxed set please contact The University of Aberdeen Development Trust on 01244 274111.


The Gallery, The Sir Duncan Rice Library, Bedford Road, Aberdeen, AB24 3AA
For more information, please contact scc.events@abdn.ac.uk




The Aberdeen Bestiary: Sound-Image-Narrative

Lead: Dr Suk-Jun Kim (Music/SERG)

The Aberdeen Bestiary: Sound-Image-Narrative is an artistic research project that explores strata of sound-image narratives by creating a series of short electroacoustic compositions responding to selected images from the Aberdeen Bestiary, focusing, particularly, on imaginary animals depicted and described in the collection. Each composition aims to evoke not only the animals themselves but their surroundings such as imaginary habitats and behaviours, to animate them and conjure up to the viewer-listener a probable world of the fantastic animals.

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Of the Wolf Of the Owl Of the Swan Of the Caladrius


Of the Wolf

Of the Owl

Of the Swan

Of the Caladrius

Post Concert Discussion