Re-Framed: Celebrating Diversity

PLEASE NOTE: Due to unforeseen circumstances we are having to postpone this event. We will be rescheduling for later in the year (date TBC). If you have booked tickets for this event or have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us at

For Festival of Museums 2017 we’re hosting an event in College Hall that celebrates diversity while disrupting our traditional display space. We’re working with an artist to create a projection and animation that will fill the room with light, sound and the faces of College members, trainees and medical students. The effect of this will be to subdue the impact of our portraits of College founders, Presidents and eminent Fellows. As the evening light dims the intensity of the projection will grow, and these new, diverse faces will dominate the room.

Re-Framed facebook graphic

So why are we doing this?

First all of, Festival of Museums gives museums the opportunity to try new things, take risks, and attract new audiences. As a newly accredited museum within a very old institution, we’re keen to grasp these opportunities.

Secondly, our portraits on display in College Hall follow a similar pattern to most late 19th century celebrations of an institution’s rich history. The subjects are all white, and they are all men. It was during this late 19th century period that the College’s community began to diversify, with licentiates appearing in the minute books from many other parts of the world, for example South Asia.

And then, during the same period, women began to be admitted to the College, to be licensed in surgery. Now, the College has a truly international membership. Glasgow itself is a proudly multi-ethnic city. In the 21st century, women are leaders in medicine. The College has had two female Vice Presidents this decade. Yet College Hall has remained virtually unchanged since it was built as an extension to the St Vincent Street building in the 1890s.

The College isn’t unique in this habit of using symbolic spaces in the same way for 100+ years. However, it does invite questions, challenges, and debate. And that’s one of the important roles for museums in the 21st century.

So we asked members, trainees and students to submit selfies that would form part of the projection. So far we’ve received almost 100 submissions from around the world!

fom poster

Founder of the College in 1599, Maister Peter Lowe


At the event, we’ll have contributions from acclaimed author Louise Welsh, Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, and Takondwa Itaye-kamangira, a Medical Training Initiative (MTI) participant from Malawi, supported by the College.

Taking on a project like this needs support from outside the organisation, and we received strong support and advice from the Glasgow Women’s Library. We even borrowed their Designer in Residence to help us produce some visuals to promote the event (Maister Peter Lowe having a party, above). Staff at Museums Galleries Scotland also provided super support and encouragement.

Delegates at the College’s Medical Undergraduate Conference in March enthusiastically volunteered to have their portraits taken to contribute to the artwork and poster design (top of the page).

The event has been kindly supported by Festival of Museum. See all of the events around the country at

To find out more about our event and to book tickets go to



Words and Deeds: An Evening with Artist Hugh Buchanan – Review

On the 16th May 2014 we took part in our first ever Festival of Museums and Museums at Night event – “Words and deeds: an evening with artist Hugh Buchanan”. We invited guests to come along to the College and hear from Hugh who specialises in the most wonderful watercolours of museums and archives and the amazing documents they hold in their collections.

The evening got off to a great start with steak pie and veggie haggis (and a wee glass of wine) before Hugh began his talk. He took us through his early years as an artist and discussed what led him to his interest in museums and archives. Hugh’s paintings are amazing and as one person commented “you can almost smell the dust!” I think even Hugh was delighted with how great his paintings looked on the big screen!

A water colour painting of old deed boxes by Hugh Buchanan

Deed boxes. Watercolour painting by Hugh Buchanan

After his talk, Hugh very kindly agreed to give a master class on perspective to a small group of budding artist. They were given an hour to sketch scenes from our beautiful lower library and there was a prize for our favourite sketch of the evening.

A selection of sketches drawn by our visitors of our Lower Library

A selection of sketches drawn by our visitors


Hugh Buchanan and the winner of the best sketch of the evening

Hugh Buchanan and the winner of the best sketch of the evening

For all those who were a little shy of showing off their artistic talents, there was the opportunity to go around the College and view our own fantastic art collection. The College is home to an impressive collection of art including a fine copy of J. J. Audubon’s “Birds of America”, “Scottish Mother and Child” by John Bellany and “The Stretcher Bearers” by Hugh Adam Crawford. We also house a growing number of works by young and contemporary artists, many of which have been winners at the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts exhibitions, to which the College offers an annual prize.

A huge thank you to Hugh and our guests for making the evening so great – We hope everyone enjoyed it as much as we did.

You can find out more about Hugh Buchanan and his paintings on his website

A Ghostly Painting for Halloween

Since today is Halloween, we decided to have a look through the College collections to see what spooky items we could find. We considered featuring a pickled half-head, or relating the history of witches in the West of Scotland* but decided instead to use this opportunity to highlight a wonderful (but often overlooked) painting from the art collection by former Fellow O. H. Mavor.

O. H. Mavor studied medicine at Glasgow University, became a Fellow of the Royal Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, and worked as a general practitioner. His talents were not, however, limited to medicine. Indeed, he was perhaps best known for his plays, written under the pseudonym James Bridie (a name he arrived at by combining his grandfather’s first name and grandmother’s maiden name).

As well as holding copies of a number of his plays, the College library holds copies of Mavor’s caricatures of some of the most eminent medical practitioners in Glasgow the early 20th century. These cartoon drawings demonstrated his wit and wry sense of humour, and Mavor was always able to succinctly capture the background and personality of his friends and colleagues in the medical profession.

This watercolour painting of two ghostly figures in a field is signed “O.H. ’39” by Osborne Henry Mavor and is titled Colloque Sentimentale, or “Gin a body, meet a body”. It borrows its title from the French poem by Paul Verlaine and takes a line from Robert Burns’ poem, Comin’ Thro’ the Rye. We decided to highlight this painting because the work is so unlike the relatively light-hearted sketches that Mavor usually produced. As the title suggests, Mavor was obviously influenced by the poetry of Verlaine and Burns, and the painting has a certain eerie, almost ethereal quality. The two figures in the field are very different to the characters in the rest of Mavor’s drawings. No wry humour and subtle in-jokes here.

We think everything about this painting makes it perfect for Halloween, from the landscape and the colour of the sky to the posture and expressions of the two figures.

Colloque Sentimentale, or "Gin a Body, Meet a Body" by O. H. Mavor

Colloque Sentimentale, or “Gin a Body, Meet a Body” by O. H. Mavor

* If you were particularly looking forward to some witchcraft or pickled body parts, don’t fret – we’ll probably blog about them another time!