Art & Heritage Collection


Art & Heritage Collections

Preserving and presenting artworks and artefacts which reflect the history and achievements of RGU.

The University holds an extensive collection of historical objects and contemporary art which allow staff, students and visitors to explore our University’s history.

  • Collect RGU's History
  • Collection Loans
  • Create Exhibitions
  • Community Engagement
  • Offer Volunteering Opportunities
  • Support Teaching and Research


Regular exhibitions and events are held in many venues across campus.

Current Exhibitions

Previous Exhibitions

Silenced Voices

Concourse Gallery, Sir Ian Wood Building

September 2022

Exhibition displayed during the Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association conference, selected with the input of Sarah Pederson (Creative and Cultural Business School) to reflect the theme of the 2022 MeCCSA conference, 'Silenced Voices'.


Look Again Project Space

June 2022

Exhibition of artworks and artefacts from RGU Art and Heritage Collection displayed alongside contemporary works created by Gray’s Graduates in Residence. The GIRs selected an item from the collection to draw inspiration from and produced an artistic response to it in this project supported by RGU Art and Heritage.

Higher elevation

Concourse Gallery, Sir Ian Wood Building

August 2022

Showcase of work from RGU Art and Heritage Purchase Award winning graduates of the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment.

Passing the Torch

Gray’s Gallery, ground floor

November 2022

Featuring contemporary ceramics side by side with pieces from the RGU Art and Heritage Collection, this exhibition celebrates the timeless nature and enduring techniques of ceramics and wood firing.

Gray’s degree show exhibition

Gray’s School of Art, level 2

June 2022

Showcase of RGU Art and Heritage Purchase Award winning works by Gray’s School of Art graduates, 2019-2021.


Gray’s School of Art Gallery

March 2022

An exhibition selected to celebrate the journeys of Gray’s School of Art Alumni, featuring award winning works created by recent graduates and former graduates and professional artist/tutor compositions.  Educational crossing points presented in a kaleidoscopic snapshot of wonderful Gray’s School of Art talent through time.

Developing the Negative

February 2020

Developing the Negative documents a search for a mothers’ lost family. Gray’s School of Art MA Photography student, Jennie Milne explored the journeys of people affected by displacement, trauma and loss in a series of portraits.

Higher Elevation

November 2019

An exhibition featuring RGU Architecture Purchase Award winners work. We look forward to following our graduate's progress and their careers in the future.

Fresh Spirit

September 2019

Celebrating a new semester we welcomed the new intake of Gray’s School of Art students to the Gray’s School of Art building via an Expo of art works and objects from the RGU collections. The exhibition included work by professional artists such as Joyce Cairns and Will Maclean alongside some of our most recent graduates work and a drawing in print block form of the Gray’s building which was designed by Michael Shewan, an architect truly inspired by international architect Mies van der Rohe. 

The Wrong Idea Forever

May 2019

RGU Art and Heritage welcome back Gray’s alumna Nicola Williams to Gray’s School of Art. Nicola was brought up on a farm in rural Aberdeenshire and she studied painting at Gray’s School of Art 1999-2003, before moving to London to complete her MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art.  The rural environment she grew up in continues to provide her with inspiration and sources of imagery for her work.

Engage 2019

March 2019

For many years Fashion and Textiles tutor Charlie Hackett has requested the loan of recent RGU purchase award winners work in order that current students may see the various approaches and techniques used by former Fashion and Textiles students. This year is the first year in which students from the department have had the opportunity to visit the new collections repository, which greatly increases engagement with the collection. An opportunity to focus on more recent works, materials used and ideas developed by award winners.


February 2019

An exhibition featuring examples of self portraiture by students and graduates of Gray’s School of Art.


January 2019

An exhibition of selected works recently displayed in GDF Suez and Engie offices in the city. Featured work by Stuart MacDonald OBE and Lennox Dunbar RSA


The Collection

The University holds an extensive collection of historical and contemporary art along with physical objects which present a window into the history of teaching in the North East of Scotland and a physical link with our alumni. Our aim is to provide students and visitors with a catalyst for engagement and an opportunity to explore and learn. Whilst preserving and presenting artworks and artefacts, the collection is undeniably about people and represents a reflection in their time and of their achievement. It is there to take us on a journey, to study, to question and to inform.


The Architecture Collection contain student drawings, teaching equipment such as lantern slides and ephemera relating to the history of the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment.

We also hold landscape architecture and art books in our Antiquarian Collection which includes items pre-dating the founding of Gray's School of Art in 1885.

Certain volumes were awarded as national prizes as a result of medals won by Aberdeen art students from the Science and Art Department at South Kensington. Many volumes have been donated over the years by the school alumni, including prominent Aberdeen architects.

In 2007, the university began to award annually, purchase awards for project work by exceptional students from the annual Degree Show. These contemporary additions complement the existing 1920s to 1970s collection of student drawings. Around 140 volumes were donated by the late John Maclennan, having belonged to himself or his father, Harbourne Maclennan, both partners in the long established firm of Jenkins and Marr.


Stuart Campbell - Thinking outside the Bloc(K) 


Stuart Campbell - Thinking outside the Bloc(K) ​


Lucy Fisher - St Clements Primary School


Michael Shewan - Gray's School of Art axomometric drawing ​


Lucy Fisher -St Clements Primary School ​


Chester Kendell - An Orcadian Cabinet of Curiosities (Model) ​

Art & Design

The art collection from Gray's School of Art consists of approximately 2,000 artworks in a variety of media representing Drawing and Painting, Contemporary Art Practice, Communication Design, Three Dimensional Design and Fashion and Textiles. Many art works held in the collection are by respected members of the Royal Scottish Academy and successful working professional artists and Designers.

We collect works which are donated and retain material which reflects the history of Gray’s School of Art.

RGU Art and Heritage Purchase awards are presented annually to successful Gray's School of Art students whilst award winning works are retained in the collection.


Rowan Whalen Crawford - Contemporary Art Practice Digital print/ Nightfall​


Fred Stiven - Installation/MA Collections Engagement 2017 ​


Alison Thyra Grubb -  Vase from Bismuth Collection ​


Kerrie Munro - Bracelet/ etched steel and copper ​


Rachel Mack - Detail of Constructed dress ​


Deborah Beeson - Installation / A Moment Past ​


Rachel Mack Fashion and Textiles - Latex and tulle dress / Constructed​


RGU Art and Heritage engagement with Fashion and  Textiles students​


Katie Watson -  Oil on canvas / Forgotten Place​


Hannah Jacobsen - Graphic Design / Consumer Dress Up Dolls ​


Lee Borthwick - Textile / Big Shed mat ​


Gray's students engage with the Fashion and Textiles collection in Collections Repository​


 Emma Mackenzie - Fashion and Textiles / New Zealand lasercut sheepskin leather ​


Exhibition Overview featuring Linda Garden self portrait - Oil on canvas / Room for Reflection ​


Brian Hutcheson - Oil on canvas / Monochrome Emotion ​


Ian Fleming RSA - Print / Comment 17 ​

Science & Engineering

The Pharmacy collection largely consists of teaching equipment and photographs relevant to the first School of Pharmacy in the UK.

The School of Engineering and Chemistry was originally established in 1910, following the creation of Robert Gordon's Technical College. Engineering is represented by a variety of objects and supporting material intended as teaching aids, including many electrical measuring devices.

Of particular interest is a copy of Landseer's portrait of James Bell, a founding member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. The painting, believed to be by one of Landseer's students, was donated to the University in recognition of the pioneering teaching work carried out by the Aberdeen Society of Chemists and Druggists, which pre-dated the RPS.


Maw's Ideal Pocket Atomizer​


Panax Radiation Monitor tm.64​


Experiment breathing test - Life Sciences​


The payload which travelled to outer space in 1996​


Detail of Madas mechanical computing device ​


Overview of collections repository​


Dexterity test used in School of Occupational Therapy​


RGIT Survival Centre​


Electrical engineering experiment in sound booth​


Needlework Development Scheme

As featured in the excellent BBC4 documentary: The Town that Thread Built.

Over 100 Needlework objects are held in our collection the Needlework Development Scheme was a collaboration between art & design and also education & industry. The scheme encouraged needlework and therefore also the sale of thread manufactured by J&P Coats of Paisley. The company would become an international concern and in turn they supported the concept of a collection of historical and modern embroideries collected from around the world, with examples being purchased by, or donated to, the Scheme.

In turn, the collection was exhibited and loaned to schools in order to help teach and promote embroidery as an art form and was featured in the Festival of Britain in 1951. In 1961, J&P Coats Ltd withdrew funding for the Scheme and the collection of over 3,500 textile items was disseminated between various universities, colleges and museums around the UK.

Purchase Awards

Each year the Robert Gordon University awards a series of purchase awards to successful students who study a range of courses offered by both Gray’s School of Art and the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and the Built Environment.

Works retained by the University are collected for future display and the resulting body of work provides an excellent visual record of the creative output of the university and the North East.

The Art and Heritage Collections were given Full Museum Accreditation by Museums Libraries and Archives Council in February 2009.


Adam Johannasson - Communication Design. Award winner 2019


Kieran McCarroll - Communication Design. Award winner 2019


Emanuela Agnoni - Contemporary Art Practice. Award winner 2019


Isabel McLeish - Contemporary Art Practice. Award winner 2019


Alison Grubb - Three Dimensional Design. Award winner 2019


Libby Curtis with Emanuela Agnoni. Award winner 2019


Joseph Buhat - Painting. Award winner 2019


Leila Kleineidam - Painting. Award winner 2019


Erin Hamilton - Fashion and Textiles.. Award winner 2019




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