Museum’s 30th anniversary focus of photography exhibition

17 April 2014

A photography display to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Aberdeen Maritime Museum will open on Saturday 19 April in the Shiprow venue.

To accompany the pictorial show, John Edwards, former keeper of maritime history at the museum, will give a public talk at 12.30pm on Wednesday 23 April. The 30-minute talk is free but advance booking is required by telephoning the museum on (01224) 337714.

Meredith Greiling, curator of maritime history at Aberdeen Maritime Museum, said: "After three decades of growth and achievement Aberdeen Maritime Museum continues to honour the maritime history of the city and the people who contributed to its proud heritage."

John Edwards said: "1984 saw the first visitors to Aberdeen Maritime Museum and I was privileged to be in charge of its magnificent collection of maritime history.

"The lunchtime talk will relive the years during which the museum was created and presented within the historic Provost Ross's House. Behind-the-scenes tales will be told along with a showing of some vintage images from the 80s."

Aberdeen Art Gallery and Regional Museum was founded in 1885 and within seven years it had begun to collect maritime artefacts including a model of SS Thermopylae which was acquired from shipbuilders Hall Russell and Company in 1892, the year the ship was launched.

A substantial collection of ship models, marine artworks and objects was amassed until a permanent maritime exhibition was installed in the basement of the Cowdray Hall on Schoolhill in the 1970s. That display generated further interest in Aberdeen's maritime history, which in turn encouraged efforts for a museum devoted solely to that subject.

By the late 1970s the Art Gallery & Museums department was in negotiation with the National Trust for Scotland to lease Provost Ross's House in order to create Aberdeen Maritime Museum. This meant that the city's maritime collections would be on public display in a property closely associated with maritime trade - John Ross had been a shipping merchant in the early 18th century. Furthermore, its location on Shiprow provided the ideal opportunity to redevelop a historic part of the city and provide the momentum for further improvements to the area.

In 1979, the Aberdeen Maritime Museum Appeal Company (AMMA) was established to raise funds for the new displays and to provide publicity for the venture. Many industries including shipbuilding, fishing and oil companies joined with schools and community groups to raise thousands of pounds for the project.

Professional museum designers worked with the museum staff to create lively displays about the people, ships and industries that had contributed to Aberdeen's rich maritime heritage over the centuries. For the first time in the city, audio visual displays were included to enhance the visitor experience. Such was the interest in the new museum that both AMMA and museum staff collected so much material that before the museum had opened the Council purchased the Trinity Congregational Church next to Provost Ross's House, as the site of "Phase II" of the museum.

After years of effort, Aberdeen Maritime Museum was officially opened to the public by Lord Provost Alex Collie on 26 April 1984. A Royal Visit by HRH The Queen Mother followed in May as did tens of thousands of visitors.

The exhibition is open until Saturday 16 August 2014.