Blairs Museum reopens with over 500 years of Catholic heritage

Dunkeld News

Blairs College, South Deeside Road, Aberdeen

The Blairs Museum in Aberdeen will reopen on Friday 30th April 2021, after an extended period of closure arising from the COVID pandemic. Blairs Museum offers a unique insight into Scotland’s Catholic history and heritage with spectacular collections spanning more than 500 years it is located on South Deeside Road, Blairs, Aberdeen, housed in part of the former national junior seminary. 

A special exhibition this year is titled ‘Capparoni and the Papal Court’. It comprises a fascinating set of hand coloured engravings by the artist Guiseppe Capparoni depicting the people of the Papal Court and the religious orders in Rome between 1823 and 1846 (the year in which Pope Pius IX was elected). These colourful images all clearly depict real individuals and give a lively impression of life in Rome at this time. Commenting on the reopening, Museum Curator, Elinor Vickers said: “We look forward to welcoming visitors back to the museum this year and hope that they find our new exhibition, on the artist Capparoni, is of interest. It is exciting to be developing our new website which should let everyone, no matter where, enjoy the museum and its collections.”

Elinor Vickers added; “Guiseppe Capparoni (1800-1879) is an artist who deserves to be better known, whose speciality was his illustrations for a massive series of books on regional and local costumes of the world. The museum holds a large selection of his illustrations of the people of Rome. He also worked on paintings in the churches of Rome, including various Stations of the Cross and ‘The Holy Family’ and ‘The Marriage of the Virgin’ at the basilica church of Sant’ Andrea delle Fratte. This church later became the titular church of Thomas Joseph Cardinal Winning.” A selection of the relics and unusual liturgical items held by the museum are also newly exhibited this year.

The museum will also be displaying all the treasures from the Permanent Collection, such as the world famous Memorial Portrait of Mary Queen of Scots, the Blairs Jewel, the vestment collection and the Jacobite portraits. As well as the cloth of silver vestments of Henry Benedict; Bonnie Prince Charlie’s brother. 

This museum has received a significant Recovery and Resilience Grant from Museums and Galleries Scotland to develop a new website. This will enable visitors to see the museum in 3D walkthroughs if they are currently unable to visit. The website we also bring together information on all the collections belonging to the Scottish Catholic Heritage Collections Trust, not just at the museum, but also those at the University of Aberdeen; and draw attention also to the Scottish Catholic Archive at Columba House in Edinburgh.  

The new website will also host online retail and an online schools programme as well as providing a portal to visitor information and booking and online events.