If you think of museums and art galleries as stuffy, snobby, dusty or boring, then booking a tour of the Aberdeen Treasure Hub will change your mind.
The Treasure Hub, on Granitehill Road, is the new repository for all the art and artefacts the city owns.
It’s a combination of a purpose-built, high tech store, an accessible visitor attraction and a giant car boot sale! Sadly, you can’t take the objects home, but the joy is that you never know just what a visit may turn up, from a priceless masterpiece, to a floppy disc, a giant sign from the Brent Delta or the most exquisite, yet horrific, tiny embroidered Chinese shoes from the days of foot binding.
The whole world is here and waiting to be explored. Given that the city’s museums and art gallery hold roughly half a million items and can only show 1-5% of them at any given time, it has to be stored somewhere. Previously it languished, swathed in tissue paper, in the dusty basements and forgotten corners of the Art Gallery or in dank museum stores.
Now, after a massive and ongoing programme of cleaning, conservation and cataloguing, it’s possible to see and explore all this for yourself. Some of the items are boxed, but many are displayed on open shelving. You could potter around for weeks without ever being bored. It’s no wonder that the curators are always changing their minds about their favourite objects from week to week.
If you’re on a guided tour, you can look at and often handle some of the collection. The good thing is that there’s just so much stuff you’ll definitely find something to interest and excite you. From the humblest plate from the 1970s, to elaborate pieces of Venetian glass, remnants of Aberdeen’s comb making industry, or archived vintage fashion.
There’s a collection of Bill Gibb designs and a frankly hideous 1980s suit that looks like Lacroix and Versace had a bet that they could make something outré for under a fiver. What’s interesting is the way the objects, many quite ordinary in themselves, spark fascinating discussions and memories. Even the automated shelving stacks are cool.
In the art store, the pictures are arranged by size, on massive mesh gliding walls, so there’s a mix of styles, genres and subjects on each one. It makes it easy to decide what you like, though working out why can be much more difficult! It will take another year or two to fully unpack the collections, so the Treasure Hub is changing all the time. There’s always something new to look at or a fascinating new juxtaposition of objects that sparks ideas or creativity.
The curators are really fun, friendly and knowledgeable, with a true enthusiasm for sharing the city’s collection. They also work with schools, dementia organisations and other groups in the activity area following up special interests. If you’d like to get more involved, there are volunteer opportunities available too.
As well as regular bookable tours on Wednesdays at 11 and 2pm, and pre-arranged group tours on Thursdays, there’s also a free open day on 7th April, but advanced booking is required if you want to explore behind the scenes.
The curators will be on hand to help you discover some of the city’s treasures and there’s a family-friendly programme of activities. Heritage has rarely been so much fun!
Aberdeen Treasure Hub
Granitehill Road, Northfield, AB16 7AX
Tel: 01224 346346
To book a place on a tour call: 01224 523677
To book a group visit call: 01224 337715