Thousands of items from the University’s Marischal Museum and Natural Philosophy Collection are to be made available for higher education in the UK through a prestigious grant to create a database of digital images and information. The project, LEMUR (LEarning with MUseum Resources), will run for three years and is being funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). It will bring previously unseen collections into teaching use for the first time, in support of the government's plan to deliver high quality teaching materials across the internet.
Marischal Museum and the Natural Philosophy Collection are of national importance. Marischal Museum contains 70,000 items, with particular strengths in Scottish history and archaeology, Mediterranean Archaeology, Foreign Ethnography, Fine Art and Numismatics. Since the University was founded in 1495, much of the material has been donated by staff, students and generous benefactors from all over the world.
The Natural Philosophy Collection of scientific instruments is one of the finest of its type in the UK, and contains over 2,000 objects. Items of special interest include late 18th century equipment from the first semi-public astronomical observatory in Scotland to be furnished with modern instruments, equipment used by both the British and Germans during World War II, pioneering fine measuring equipment by RV Jones, and instruments from the first national meteorological observing network.
In the past, difficult access to the collections limited their use in teaching. Following a major grant from JISC, the £241,000 LEMUR project will make the collections available to anyone, anywhere with an internet connection, and they will be used in learning packages bridging the arts, sciences and social sciences.
At the University of Aberdeen, the resources will be used by a wide variety of departments and distributed learning programs. Interactive learning resources will be developed in the first instance by lecturers from the University’s Departments of Physics, History of Art, Cultural History and History and Philosophy of Science working together with colleagues in the Learning Technology Unit. As the project develops, other staff teaching Anthropology, Scottish Ethnology, Philosophy, History of Art and Continuing Education will also incorporate the material into their courses.
Dr Alan Knox, manager of the University's Historic Collections, said: "Most museums have far more material than can ever be put on display. LEMUR is going to put a lot of ours straight into mainstream teaching for the first time. We are very excited."
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