Record-Breaking year for Aberdeen’s cultural scene

23/11/2023
Inside Aberdeen Art Gallery, photo by Niamh McCabe

ABERDEEN’S cultural scene has hit new heights, with the city’s art gallery, museums, and archives celebrating a remarkable year marked by extraordinary visitor numbers and a diverse array of events. The Finance and Resources Committee recently greenlit the 2022-2023 annual report, revealing a staggering 300,000 visits to these cultural hubs.

The past year saw the city host captivating events, including an exhibition dedicated to Quentin Blake, the UK’s beloved illustrator, and the return of the 10th-century Book of Deer illuminated manuscript after a millennium, alongside The Galloway Hoard: Viking-Age Treasure. These events proved to be a magnet for art enthusiasts and history aficionados.

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The annual report underscores Aberdeen’s commitment to expanding its cultural horizons, featuring 800+ new acquisitions and an impressive £48,031 raised from external funding bodies to bolster these additions. Additionally, six new collection exhibitions provided fresh perspectives on Aberdeen’s rich history and artistic heritage.

The statistics from the report shed light on the cultural significance of these institutions, with 218,590 admissions to the Aberdeen Art Gallery, 50,364 to the Aberdeen Maritime Museum, and 29,264 to Provost Skene’s House. Even during the winter closure of the Maritime Museum for essential repairs, the city continued to attract cultural enthusiasts, with a notable 1,036,542 virtual visits, including active engagement on social media platforms.

Councillor Martin Greig, the City Council Culture Spokesman, highlighted the profound impact of Aberdeen’s cultural contributions on both the local economy and the community’s well-being. He remarked, “Local people can be proud of the wonderful art and museum collections that have been built up in the city over many generations,” emphasising the ongoing commitment to offering diverse exhibitions and activities.

The comprehensive report presented to the committee covered various aspects, including details about the collection, loans and acquisitions, online access, cultural life, music sessions, lectures, festivals, events, access initiatives, volunteer contributions, and the positive impact on the local economy.

Aberdeen’s collection, cherished over centuries, stands as a testament to the city’s rich heritage. The diverse cultural offerings, spanning the Aberdeen Art Gallery, Aberdeen City & Aberdeenshire Archives, Maritime Museum, Treasure Hub, Provost Skene’s House, and the soon-to-reopen Tolbooth Museum, reflect the best of Aberdeen to the world. The collection invites visitors to explore, reinterpret, and find inspiration for the future.

The overarching goal of the gallery, archive, and museums service is to ensure the preservation and understanding of the collection, create accessible opportunities for the public, promote and enhance cultural offerings, foster resilience and sustainability, and guarantee that the collection remains relevant and accessible to all.

As Aberdeen continues to evolve, its commitment to nurturing and showcasing its cultural treasures ensures that residents and visitors alike can enjoy a rich tapestry of art, history, and inspiration.

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