King’s Museum lies at the heart of the University's Old Aberdeen campus. As well as being Scotland's newest museum, it may also be the oldest as its origins lie in a museum collection established in King's College in 1727.
King’s Museum has exhibitions changing every few months to display these collections, some involving students and academic staff collaborating with the museum to bring recent research to a wider audience. With a service for schools, evening lectures and other events, such as the annual ‘Night at the Museum’, the museum is a place where objects and ideas are explored in ways that would have been inconceivable to those who have collected and curated the collection over the past centuries.
The museum is a friendly place, where passers-by, students, staff and tourists can drop in for a break; a place of stimulation and reflection in the middle of the busy campus.
The histories of North-East Scotland and Fiji have some surprising connections as a result of 19th century Scottish involvement in missionary activity and colonial administration.
The exhibition shows the range of resources that Fijian craft-workers were able to use, whale ivory, cloth made from the bark of the paper mulberry tree and wood. Among these is an impressively large bowl carved from a single piece of wood that was used to serve yaqona, a mildly intoxicating drink, and valuable itemswith a Tongan ancestry.
The first Governor was Sir Arthur Hamilton Gordon, son of the 4th Earl of Aberdeen. He allowed Fijian chiefs to continue in power and announced that ‘any useful native customs shall be retained, but improper customs shall be given up’. This approach later became known as ‘indirect rule’ and was an important feature of the British Empire in the 20th century.
The exhibition is a collaborative endeavour of the University of Aberdeen Museums and the Fijian Art project. Fijian Art is a major research project funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council, and based at the Sainsbury Research Unit, University of East Anglia, and the University of Cambridge.
The exhibition will be open in King's Museum from 27 January to 23 May 2014.