Heriot-Watt museum collections available online

Users will have online access to images of a diverse range of items, such as medieval documents and these antique paisley shawls

The Collections Trust and Scottish university museums have announced a new partnership to make collections available online using the Culture Grid.

The partnership will support University Museums in Scotland (UMIS) in a £318,000 project led by the University of Aberdeen to electronically record their holdings through collection-level descriptions, item records, and photography of select objects. Funded by the Scottish Funding Council, Revealing the Hidden Collections will record the collections of the universities of Heriot-Watt, Dundee, St Andrews, Stirling, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Robert Gordon, and the Glasgow School of Art.

Heriot-Watt University's museum and archive collections are a treasure trove for researchers
Ann Jones, Heriot-Watt University Archivist

The collections data will be uploaded to the Culture Grid, a service run by the Collections Trust which pulls together information from museum, archive and library websites and databases and serves it up to media partners such as Google and the BBC.

Amy Miller, Project Officer for Revealing the Hidden Collections, commented, "The internet is now an important research tool, for school children, academics and those with an interest in a particular subject but currently they have few ways of discovering what we hold, or viewing it. This partnership means that the world class collections held by Scottish university museums will now be accessible for use and enjoyment by everyone."

Ann Jones, Heriot-Watt University Archivist, said, "Heriot-Watt University's museum and archive collections are a treasure trove for researchers. Through our participation in this exciting project, users will gain online access to a wealth of information and images of items as diverse as James Nasmyth's model of Watt's steam engine through to exquisite paisley shawls and medieval documents.

"The collections chart our development from our groundbreaking origins in 1821 as the Edinburgh School of Art, the first Mechanics Institute, which revolutionised access to education, to the present day. Our collections tell the fascinating story of our Edinburgh Campus from the time of King Robert the Bruce and provide an eye opening insight into three centuries of textile design in the shape of our inspirational Textile Collection at our Scottish Borders Campus. Art is also an integral part of our museum and archive collections which reflect our rich heritage and include works by Raeburn, Blackadder and Bellany."

The Revealing the Hidden Collections project is one of many contributors to the Culture Grid. The system currently holds over 730,000 item records from over 50 different collections of national, regional and local scope from museums, libraries and archives, with many thousands more due to be added in the coming months.