Quest to find out more about museum benefactors

Quest to find out more about museum benefactors

Today, the McManus 168 supporters group officially launched a project that aims to collect information on the original 168 subscribers who contributed to The Albert Institute, now known as The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum. The project is part of the celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the museum being established in 1867 and is funded by Heritage Lottery.  Working with two of Scotland’s most prominent historians Professors Jim Tomlinson and Chris Whatley, the project team comprises a number of specialists and archivists alongside those with no previous experience but plenty of enthusiasm.

Research has already uncovered that funding for the Albert Institute came from the community. The list includes nautical instrument makers, grocers, hecklers, waiters, ship’s chandlers, dyers, bleachers and flax spinners. The group are now keen to find out more about them and acknowledge their place in the City’s story and looking for more volunteers to take part in the project.

Sue Moody, Chair of the Project Planning Team said

“This project is about bringing people together to enjoy exploring Dundee's heritage. Anyone can take part- everyone who does will contribute to a lasting legacy for The McManus, still going strong after 150 years. For this project all you need is enthusiasm and an interest in the past.”

Chris Whatley, Professor of Scottish History at University of Dundee said

“Funding for the Albert Institute, came largely from private, voluntary subscriptions.  The community. In the forefront were the owners of Dundee’s linen and jute works.  But as striking were the contributions that came from the pockets of the people. The bulk of the subscriptions came from what today we’d call the middle classes: the proprietors of small businesses, merchants, lawyers, teachers and the like.  But about them we know very little.

Yet these were the people who spearheaded the campaign for the Albert Institute – envisaged as a library and art gallery for the city’s inhabitants. It is intended to discover who the subscribers to this hugely ambitious building were, and what motivated them to contribute. It will also celebrate and commemorate them as vital but too long overlooked figures in the making of modern Dundee.”

Anyone interested in taking part in the McManus 168 project or wants to hear more can contact Sue Moody at moodysue784@gmail.com