Five university museums in Scotland - Museums Association

Five university museums in Scotland

Capturing lives in Scotland’s communities

During summer 2020, 119 young people from across Scotland participated in Capturing Lives in Scotland’s Communities, a partnership project between five university museums in Scotland (UMIS): the universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Stirling and the Glasgow School of Art.

Aimed at young people aged 11-18 from across Scotland and particularly targeted at those from underrepresented backgrounds, the six-week online programme encouraged participants to work towards an Arts Award Explore qualification utilising a wide range of museum objects from university collections as inspiration. The young people explored their local communities through different art media including photography and landscape painting, supported by a current university student as a mentor.

Eighty-six participants completed the Arts Award Explore qualification. Feedback from the project was overwhelmingly positive; 93.5% of participants said they had learnt new skills through taking part in the programme, 90.3% felt more confident in their creative skills and 88.2% felt more confident in their communication skills. 57% of the young people said they’d be more likely to apply to study at participating institutions in future.

I didn’t expect to have such interesting and deep conversations with my team which helped my confidence in the way they did.


The live online sessions were enjoyed by all. In spring 2021, building on the success of Capturing Lives, we created a new project, The Power of Public Art, where 80 participants (including 25 who had completed the Capturing Lives project) worked towards a Bronze Arts Award.

The Power of Public Art was a partnership between the universities of Stirling, Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Art Festival, with contributions from the University of Dundee. The eight-week online programme once again used university museum collections as the stimulus to encourage young people to consider the many uses of public art and its power to inspire change.