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Museum of the University of St Andrews


(MUSA)

A modern museum occupying a converted 19th C. coach-house on the north side of The Scores in St Andrews, the Museum of the University of St. Andrews (MUSA) connects the ancient university with the town and gives a window onto its history, personalities and artefacts. Opened in 2008 by crime writer Ian Rankin (b.1960), the museum has four galleries; containing exhibitions titled Scotland's First University, Living and Learning, and Seeing and Believing, together with a temporary exhibition which changes twice per year. There is also a 'Learning Loft', a multi-purpose educational space giving a venue for regular workshops and lectures to adults and children, and an external terrace offering panoramic views north over St Andrews Bay and the mouths of the Eden Estuary and Firth of Tay.

The first gallery, to the left of the entrance, explains the religious origins of St. Andrews and its importance as a seat of learning, which led to foundation of the University in 1411, the first in Scotland and only the third in the English-speaking world. It traces the University's history through to the 16th C. and displays some of its treasures including its Mediaeval maces (the symbol of the University's authority) and early documents. The second gallery explores student life and university traditions over the centuries and exhibits include the chair used by the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament when it sat in Parliament Hall in 1645-46. The third gallery explores some of the contributions to arts, science and thought made by St. Andrews academics, including Sir John Napier (1550 - 1617), Prof. James Gregory (1638-75), Sir David Brewster (1781 - 1868) and Rev. Dr. Thomas Chalmers (1780 - 1847), including a large memorial window commemorating the latter which was once in St. Salvator's Chapel.

The B-listed coach-house retains its original appearance to the front, with crowstepped gables and a slate roof, but was extended in modern style to the rear by local architects Jack Fisher Partnership. It incorporates renewable energy technologies; a ground-source heat pump is used to heat the building, while solar panels on the roof generate electricity.

MUSA provides access to a selection from the university's extensive collections stored in the University of St. Andrews Museum Collections, which is generally not open to the public. Interesting items from this collection were first displayed in the University Library in the 18th C. The University operates a further museum, the Bell Pettigrew Museum of Natural History.

In 2011, MUSA was visited by Prince William of Wales and his fiancée Kate Middleton, both graduates of the University.


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