7 Alternative Museums in Aberdeen
We’re getting closer and closer to the reopening of Aberdeen Art Gallery, which is set for the end of this year. While this is great news, with all the delays that have occurred over the refurbishment process, it’s been quite a wait for the art buffs amongst us.
The £30m renovation will include the creation of 21 new galleries, the building of a new wing, and a rooftop terrace offering expansive views over the city. This is all very well and good, but what to do in the meantime? We take a look at seven alternative museums to visit while waiting for the return of the Art Gallery.
The University of Aberdeen Zoology Museum is the perfect place for any adult or child with a fascination with animals. From elephants and whales to turtles and pufferfish – the museum offers an extensive collection allowing visitors to examine all kinds of creatures and their walk of life. There’s something to spark the curiosity of everyone – no matter their age.
The museum is free to enter and is situated right next to the botanic garden, so on warmer days you could couple your museum visit with a picturesque stroll and a picnic – not a bad day out!
Aberdeen Maritime Museum
With Aberdeen’s enduring relationship with the North Sea – it’s no wonder that an abundance of nautical tales and artefacts have surfaced over the years, and the Aberdeen Maritime Museum is the best place to experience them in all their glory.
Acknowledged as one of the finest visitor attractions in Scotland, the museum underwent a multi-million-pound expansion and refurbishment just over ten years ago, resulting in a collection of exhibitions, interactive displays and multi-media presentations that bring the stories of the sea to life.
Gordon Highlanders Museum
The only attraction in Aberdeen to receive a 5* rating by Visit Scotland, The Gordon Highlanders Museum is well worth a visit.
Through the Napoleonic Wars, India, the World Wars and Afghanistan - explore the astounding 200-year history of the order dubbed by Winston Churchill as the “finest regiment in the world.”
As well as the captivating accounts and memorabilia that contributed to the Gordon Highlanders’ rich history, visitors can also enjoy the wonderful tea room, gift shop and gardens. In addition to the permanent collection the museum hosts regular events throughout the year, including a prominent annual exhibition.
The Tolbooth Museum
Attached to the Sheriff Court building on Union Street, The Tolbooth Museum is one of Aberdeen’s oldest buildings, and one of Scotland’s best preserved 17th century gaols.
Visitors will receive unsettling insight into the world of crime and punishment in days gone by, from the imprisonment and trials of Jacobean rebels, to the holding of hundreds of kidnapped children who were sold into over-seas slavery.
Possibly due to its horrifying history, the museum is widely considered as one of Scotland’s most haunted sites and has featured in several programmes on the supernatural.
All of this aside, the museum is perfectly suitable for kids and adults of all ages and is a great opportunity to explore authentic 17th century cells and the lives of those who were held in them over the years.
Aberdeen Science Centre
The Aberdeen Science Centre is the ideal place to stimulate inquisitive minds. Featuring more than 50 hands-on exhibits to allow kids (and adults!) to interact with science in a way that is interesting, relatable and, above all, fun!
The centre offers live demonstrations to showcase some of the more dynamic aspects of science, as well as regular excursions to experience the worlds beyond our own (from the comfort and safety of the planetarium shows of course).
If you’re looking for something a bit more traditional, Blairs Museum hosts a spectacular display of heritage through collections spanning more than 500 years.
Located just outside Aberdeen, the museum gives a unique insight into Scotland's Catholic history, featuring Jacobite memorabilia, sacred silver, church textiles and paintings - notably the life size memorial portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots. Visitors will also discover the history of Blair College in which the museum resides, the former training school for young students who felt a calling to the priesthood.
The museum is located in the College’s former sacristy, and visitors can also step into St Mary’s Chapel to experience the beautiful interior and late Victorian architecture, as long as a Mass is not being held.
Blairs Museum has fixed opening hours between April and October, however if you wish to visit outwith these times simply phone ahead to arrange an appointment at any time of the year.
Milton Art Gallery
While all these alternative museums might be something slightly different, sometimes all we want to do is stroll through a gallery and appreciate the art on show.
Though Aberdeen Art Gallery certainly hosts the largest quantity of art work, there are plenty of other venues in Aberdeen and surrounding areas where there are a great number of pieces to be admired.
Milton Art Gallery enjoys beautiful surroundings thanks to its proximity to the River Dee and is located just 20 minutes from Aberdeen itself.
The Gallery has been around since 1997 and features an array of well establish Scottish Contemporary artists, each offering their own distinct style and presentation, through paintings, ceramics, sculptures and many more.
See something that tickles your cultural fancy? Or perhaps you have a favourite museum in the area that we haven’t covered? Let us know in the comments below!