What Museum and Gallery Studies students do in their one-year programme at the University of St Andrews on their way to becoming museum professionals.
The Museum and Gallery Studies MLitt (MGS for short), that most of you might not have heard of, is a one-year Masters degree at the University of St Andrews that prepares students to work in museums and galleries. MGS has been taught at St Andrews for more than 23 years and it has been the only MGS course in Scotland until recently. In Europe there are very few courses like this. MGS in St Andrews is part of the School of Art History and the staff includes professors who come from prominent institutions, such as the British Museum in London and Princeton University Art Museum in the USA. Lectures and seminars are held at the Museum of the University of St Andrews (MUSA). Yes, there is a museum in St Andrews, and yes – the museum is very well worth a visit! You cannot have studied in St Andrews without having been to the University’s museum! William and Kate came to see it during their last visit. There is not just one museum in St Andrews, as you will find out shortly.
There are currently 22 students of various nationalities enrolled on the course, including students from Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Portugal, China, the USA and Austria. You do not need to have studied Art History or History to be eligible for the course. Students come from other fields as well, such as Biology, Business, Geography and Scandinavian languages. In addition to two taught modules there is one of practical project work allowing students to curate their own show, which is the most exciting experience for someone aiming to pursue a career in the field. Since September the student groups have been preparing three exhibitions that will open their doors to the public on March 17 and that you shouldn’t miss seeing! During the process we acquire all the important skills essential for working in museums. Being responsible for publicity and sponsorship I, for example, have gained great experience in writing text for publication, negotiating with potential lenders, preparing a press release, raising sponsorship and working with a designer and printers, as well as hosting an opening event for 150 guests.
At St Andrews Museum (the building just behind the tennis courts that you pass by when walking down to Management and Physics) the exhibition is ‘Wemyss & Other Wares: A Celebration of Kirkcaldy’s Pottery,’ showcasing exquisite pottery from Fife, which once had a thriving ceramics industry. The students setting up the exhibition are supported by curatorial staff from Fife Council as well as the university. Wemyss Ware is the most famous line of the Fife potteries that has become highly collectable. Prince Charles and Elton John are amongst its collectors. Central pieces include a life-size ceramic chair and Griselda Hill’s Millennium Cats. The exhibition is supported by a full events programme comprising talks and workshops.
Why not try something new? Visit a place in St Andrews that you haven’t been to before! The exhibition will be on show for a limited time only – from March 17 to May 13.
Image 1 – Tatiana Michaelis
Image 2 – Tatiana Michaelis