On 9th February, Joan, Mark and Chris battled their way to Aberdeen through snow storms and the usual slow going tractors and lorries to attend a Behind the Scenes Tour of the University of Aberdeen Medical Collections. Once there we joined the other 14 “museums-type” people and started the day with a welcoming cup of tea and introduction by Claire Smith the Curator of Scientific at the University of Aberdeen. Other tour members came from Elgin Museum, the University of Edinburgh, University of Dundee Museum Services, Surgeons’ Hall Museum, Scotland and Medicine Partnership, Hunterian Museum, Findhorn Village Heritage Company, NHS Grampian and the Royal Scottish Academy.
We started the tour with an extremely interesting talk and display on cist burials by Neil Wilkin, then a look at the Conservation Lab with the very entertaining conservator Margot Wright.
Next up was a look at the Scientific Instrument Store with Dr John Reid followed by the Anatomy Museum and Dissection room with Dr Ian Stewart. For me this was the highlight of the tour – I love all the gory stuff. All protocols were observed though and we could only look at the displays in the anatomy museum and nothing “fresh” in the dissection room.
After lunch (yes there were one of two grumbles about having lunch after being in the dissection room) we all piled into taxis to go to the Zoology Museum. There we were met by Dr Martyn Gorman who gave us an extremely interesting look at the Zoology collection.
There then followed a quick look at the Herbarium followed finally by a trip to the Special Libraries and Archives where Siobhan Convery had taken out many interesting and rare papers and give a tremendous talk on her work.
All in all a fantastic day out though there was a lot of walking up and down stairs, braving the Aberdeen weather in February and waiting for taxis. Back home at 7pm – a twelve hour day but well worth it. (Chris)