See just how museum is ‘Preserving our Past’

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Last year St Andrews Preservation Trust Museum bought a painting by local artist Winifred McKenzie.

And as a direct result of that another McKenzie painting has been donated to the museum by a St Andrean.

The anonymous donor realised the value of the painting in terms of local history, and earlier this year handed it over to the Museum.

It’s just one of the dozens of recent acquisitions by the museum that will be going on show in the Easter exhibition. ‘Preserving our Past’.

And for many of them, it will be their first time on display.

Curator Sam Bannerman is delighted that so many of the museum’s hidden treasures will finally be seeing the light of day.

Sam Bannerman (left) and museum intern Francesca Purves admire two of the paintings that will feature in the new exhibition.

Sam Bannerman (left) and museum intern Francesca Purves admire two of the paintings that will feature in the new exhibition.

“The exhibition will look at the different areas of collecting,” Sam explained, “covering local art, childhood and business, for example.

“The exhibition will let people see the type of things we collect, giving an idea of our themes and what we are interested in collecting.”

Sam is particularly pround of the museum’s photographic collection - some of which will be on show.

“In the last five years we have had around 800 photographs donated to us, bringing our collection to 12,000, photographs - and growing quickly,” Sam said, adding: “That doesn’t include photograph albums that we have in our collection.”

The exhibition will let people see the type of things we collect, giving an idea of our themes and what we are interested in collecting

Sam Bannerman

Every photograph has its own record on the museum database so the pictures can be accessed quickly by researchers.

Work continues to digitise the photographs and Sam reports that work is more than half complete.

Around 100 pictures will be on show in a video display during the exhibition.

Perhaps most unusual is the musuem’s collection of plastic bags.

The North Street museum is a treasure trove of local artefacts.

The North Street museum is a treasure trove of local artefacts.

They come from shops in the town, past and present, and are preserved with the same care as any other exhibits, carefully wrapped in tissue paper.

From supermarkets to ladies outfitters, the bags tell their own story of life in St Andrews.

McKenzie archive boasts two works

One of the highlights of ‘Preserving our Past’ for museum curator Sam Bannerman is a second painting by St Andrews artist Winifred McKenzie.

She came to St Andrews with her sister Alison in 1941. Both were accomplished and renowned artists, exhibiting their work in galleries in London and at the Royal Scottish Academy.

Throughout World War Two, the sisters held art classes for Polish soldiers billeted in St Andrews and those works are held in the museum’s collection.

McKenzie’s painting ‘Red and Blue Poppies’ was bought last year, and became the first painting by her to be held by the museum, joining an archive of material relating to the McKenzie sisters.

Sam discovered from the McKenzie archive that the painting was originally sold for £50 at the St Andrews Art Club in 1977.

“Winifred’s paintings are quite difficult to come by,” she commented, “and so I felt quite strongly that we should aim to acquire this painting in order to have an example of her work in our collection.

“Now, nearly 40 years later, the painting has returned to St Andrews and will be displayed next spring during our Easter exhibition of recent acquisitions.

“And thanks to the Citizen article read by the donor of the second painting, we now have two paintings by Winifred in our collection.”