Thousands attend Aberdeen Art Gallery’s 125th birthday party

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Over two thousand people visited Aberdeen Art Gallery today [Wednesday 7 July] to join in its 125 birthday celebrations.

Within an hour of the Lord Provost of Aberdeen Peter Stephen opening the gallery at 10am, 500 people were enjoying the party.

There was party games with lots of prizes, birthday cake and party bags for partygoers who join in the fun. Everything was free and the activities were open to all ages, throughout the day until 4pm.

There was a special 125 gift presentation by the Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums to mark the occasion.

A very special 125 birthday cake which takes the life of the gallery as its inspiration was been made by Aberdeenshire social artist Merlyn Riggs. She presented her participatory art piece The Occasional Tea Room as part of the celebrations. Visitors were able to enjoy afternoon tea and cake in a specially erected tea tent within the gallery and listen, eat and talk in unique and relaxed surroundings.

The City Council's Arts Development team were on hand throughout the day to help everyone with Victorian-themed craft activities; including making bookmarks, photo frames and badges. Face-painting and special 125 celebratory tattoos were also on offer.

There was a Victorian photographic studio set up, so party guests could get dressed up and have their souvenir Victorian family portrait taken by a professional photographer.

The Granite City Chorus provided an assortment of songs over lunchtime.

Aberdeen Art Gallery manager Christine Rew said: "We are absolutely delighted that so many people, of all ages joined us today for the gallery's 125 birthday party.

"From its earliest beginnings Aberdeen Art Gallery has belonged to the people of Aberdeen, and the thousands that came along to help us celebrate shows it remains as popular and as well-loved today."  

The origins of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums can be traced to 1873 when John Forbes White and a number of local art collectors decided to hold a public exhibition to display their collections.

From this developed a plan to establish a public art gallery for the benefit of citizens, an objective that continues to drive the programmes of activity within the Museums and Galleries service today.

Aberdeen's handsome granite Art Gallery, designed by Alexander Marshall Mackenzie, one of the most attractive Victorian galleries in the UK, was opened in 1885.

The displays combined industrial exhibitions with exhibitions of art, greatly enhanced by generous gifts, including Aberdeen granite merchant Alexander Macdonald's private collection in 1900.

In 1907 the Town Council assumed responsibility for the building and its growing collections.