This exhibition examines Aberdeen graduate Sir William MacGregor’s career as colonial doctor, administrator and explorer, and his collecting activities in what is now Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Nigeria, Newfoundland and Australia.
Rising from an impoverished background in nineteenth century rural Aberdeenshire to the role of colonial governor, MacGregor felt he had to collect ‘before it was too late’ from the cultures he encountered which were going through rapid change.
On show are highlights from the almost 2000 items that MacGregor donated to the University of Aberdeen museums, from whale tooth ornaments to birds of paradise. These striking objects reveal the impact of colonisation and the relationships between colonial governor and governed.
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.