Artefacts to play part in museum’s anniversary
First time much of Peterhead collection has been on display
Incredible items from the north-east’s storied history form part of a major new exhibition celebrating the 125th anniversary of Arbuthnot Museum.
The Peterhead-based museum has been the setting for learning and discoveries since 1893, having been built from the town’s own granite to accommodate a library and museum for locals.
Although the collection itself began to take shape under the guidance of local merchant Adam Arbuthnot in 1773, it lay ‘huddled’ in other buildings after his death in 1850 until the museum’s creation.
The new display, named Happy Anniversary Arbuthnot Museum, includes pictures from when it first opened, jewellery found in the surrounding areas, a drum and a collection of telephones, among other artefacts.
One of the key exhibits is a large wooden pipe, once used by John Brown, Queen Victoria’s dedicated and beloved attendant.
Museums development co-ordinator Fiona Slattery Clark has curated the exhibit and said: “This place is a real gem for Peterhead and people come in and say ‘wow’.
“We’ve a good sized gallery filled with the collection which we started working on in May.
“What’s on display are recent acquisitions mostly found in 2015 to 2017 with a few archeological artefacts found in 2007.
“This is the first time most of these items have been on display.
“Much of it has been donated – such as the collection of Gray family material from New Zealand – while many of the jewellery items were found by metal detectorists and donated to the Aberdeenshire Museum Service.”
Saskia Gibbon, arts and heritage manager, said: “We’re using the celebration to show off the collection.
“It’s not all about Peterhead but it’s important as Adam Arbuthnot was born here, went on his travels and brought back many items and pictures.
“For this exhibit, we’ve tried to mirror the grandeur and the museum style from then when the walls were covered in pictures.”
Councillor Anne Stirling, chairwoman of the council’s communities committee, said the exhibition was exceptional.
She said: “We need to pay tribute to the curators who brought this together – it’s a huge opportunity for the people to connect and raise their own awareness of the history of the area.
“The exhibits on display all provide a strong sense of place, celebrating Aberdeenshire’s people, our farming, fishing, whaling, archaeology and architecture.”
Local councillor Alan Fakley added: “It’s a fantastic facility and the town needs it. I hope it continues to develop and goes on for another 125 years or moves to a more bespoke location with access for all in the town.”
The anniversary itself will be celebrated with a Victorian-style tea party on October 12. The exhibit runs until January 2019.
RARE: Councillor Anne Stirling, left, and Fiona Slattery Clark examine the pipe made and smoked by Queen Victoria’s servant, John Brown