New exhibition reveals Aberdeen's amazing applied art collection

18 March 2010

The first in a series of exhibitions being held to mark the 125th anniversary of the opening of Aberdeen Art Gallery launches this weekend.

Collected: an exhibition showcases a selection of exciting and intriguing objects from Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museum's Applied Art collection. From the earliest donation of a carved coconut cup in 1897 to the most recent acquisition of a contemporary Japanese silver bowl in 2009, the collection has grown to become one of the most diverse and significant collections of decorative art and design in Scotland.

The objects on display illustrate the development of the collection and reflect the changing tastes of both collectors and curators over these years. The Art Gallery's long tradition of collecting contemporary art is represented by innovative pieces created by current artist-makers, while historical pieces showcase traditional techniques, such as the work by 18th century Aberdeen silversmiths.

The eminent collection has been developed with the help of many organisations and individuals responsible for gifts, bequests and financial assistance.

This celebration of old and new reflects the mission of Aberdeen Art Gallery, a place that not only preserves the past and present but looks toward the future.

Many of the major artworks in the collection have been donations. The size of the gift can vary from a single item to a large collection which has been developed by a collector over many years. A significant example is the James Cromar Watt Bequest of 1941, which represents Venetian glass, oriental-ware and his own enamelwork and jewellery.

Organisations such as The Art Fund, the Contemporary Art Society, the National Fund for Acquisitions and the Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums have enthusiastically supported Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums for many years and without such assistance many important works of art would not be part of the collection.

Vice convener of Education, Culture and Sport Committee Martin Greig said: "Aberdeen's art collection is truly splendid. It has been built up into one of the UK's best municipal art galleries.

"The collection is the result of both the remarkable generosity of kind individuals and the gallery's own careful purchase policy over the years.

"As one of the city's main tourist attractions but the marvellous treasures belong to all the people of Aberdeen. I hope that the exhibition will give people an opportunity to explore our civic art gallery. There is so much to enjoy and see and the exhibition is a chance to find out more about the cultural wealth of the city and perhaps become reacquainted with favourite works."


• For over 25 years The Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums has supported the purchase of works of art and commissioned works by contemporary artists. These objects are of particular significance as they are one-off pieces, made specifically for the collections.