The ‘Golden Age’ of collecting

Two of the pupils involved in the project pictured with the Cabinet of Curiosities.
Two of the pupils involved in the project pictured with the Cabinet of Curiosities.

A ground-breaking project led by young people in Peterhead has gone on tour to help highlight Aberdeenshire’s rich museum collections and artefacts.

The young people from the Blue Toon area have created a modern day Mr Arbuthnot’s Cabinet of Curiosities, filled with artwork inspired by objects held by the local authority’s museum service.

The creative heritage and youth-led project, funded by the council, Museums Galleries Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund, is aimed at making museum collections more accessible to young people.

Working alongside social circus organisation Theatre Modo, young people from Peterhead created Mr Arbuthnot’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

The project was inspired by philanthropist and collector Adam Arbuthnot, whose curiosity led him to gather the remarkable collection of objects which formed the basis of the present day Arbuthnot Museum collection.

To create the display, the young people visited Arbuthnot Museum in Peterhead, the Discovery Centre in Mintlaw and another Cabinet of Curiosities at the University of Aberdeen to research the objects, how to present them and discover the stories behind them.

Mr Arbuthnot’s Cabinet of Curiosities is now being introduced to a wider audience, in a display which features group performances and workshops.

The tour had its first outing at the Castle Fraser Steam Rally in June.

It will be on display at the Arbuthnot Museum in Peterhead between August 24 and September 21, as well as special future appearances atL

* Wild About Aden on July 23 and 24

* Drummers Corner, Peterhead on July 25 for Scottish Week

* Maud Railway Museum on September 8

* Fraserburgh Heritage Centre on September 21

* Tractor Day at Aden Country Park on September 29

As part of the project, the young people have been working towards a Youth Achievement Award.

The Victorian “Golden Age” of collecting brought many exciting and exotic objects to Peterhead, diligently and carefully collected by Mr Arbuthnot, which were later donated to the community.

With the project, and resulting display, the museum service hopes to recreate the excitement, wonder and spectacle of the original Peterhead collection.

Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s education, learning and leisure committee, Councillor Isobel Davidson, said: “The young people who have worked on this project have created a display which is exciting, vibrant and inspiring.

“It is great to see the imagination and boldness which has gone into creating the Cabinet and I hope it inspires some curiosity in the people who come to see it.”

Committee vice-chair, Councillor Ron McKail, said: “It is fantastic to see young peoples’ imaginations fired up and being used to help us highlight this magnificent collection.”