Royal Conservatoire of Scotland opens new archive in its 170th anniversary year

Published: March 2, 2017


The opening of a new archive facility will share the fascinating narrative of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and its role in the performing arts in the UK.

This rich resource, which is officially unveiled today (Thursday) is home to thousands of interesting, unique and culturally-significant items and collections, from instruments, manuscripts and artworks to photographs and performance ephemera.

Set within the creative confines of The Whisky Bond, the archive charts the history of the Royal Conservatoire from its early days as the Glasgow Athenaeum to the institution it is today – celebrating its 170th anniversary in 2017 as a world-class centre of excellence for performing arts education.

Open by appointment to students, staff and the public, the archive offers an extraordinary insight into the inner workings of the institution and those who have passed through its doors.

Inside, shelves are stacked with rows of boxes and stacks of books which include huge leather tomes dating from 1847, detailing the minutes from the Board of Governors’ meetings, their delicate pages decorated with elegant handwriting.

One book in particular is something of a star in the archive – the ‘strangers’ book’ with the names and dates of all who visited the Glasgow Athenaeum. One page is inscribed with a single name, Charles Dickens, who delivered the inaugural address at the Athenaeum’s first official soirée.

Stuart A. Harris-Logan, Archives Officer at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “Our archive is an incredibly rich primary resource whose collections include original music manuscripts, prompt books, social history, primary research collections, performance ephemera and much more. We also have one of the world’s largest and most significant collections of musical instruments, historic and contemporary, many of which are available for our students and staff to borrow. Our new premises at the Whisky Bond place us alongside Glasgow School of Art’s archives, as well as other creative partners (including Glasgow Sculpture Studio), which always makes a visit here interesting. Our doors are now back open to all; do come and check us out.”

 

  • The institutional archive includes architectural drawings, Board of Governors’ minute books (1847-present), paintings, event programmes, press cuttings, performance photographs and related ephemera, accounts and pre-current staff and student records.
  • The archive holds more than 50 research collections including the Jimmy Logan collection, the Britannia Panopticon archive, the John Steane collection and an internationally important early and rare music archive.
  • The archive also includes a ‘living museum’ of one of the world’s most significant collections of musical instruments, from historic ‘extinct’ instruments to modern and contemporary examples, as well as a collection of ‘world instruments’ which include examples of Arabic and African origin. All in all, the collection runs to nearly 1000 items and an exhibition of many of the stars from this collection is currently outside the Ledger Room at Renfrew Street.

 

The Conservatoire’s Archives and Collections are located on level six of the Whisky Bond, 2 Dawson Road, Glasgow, G4 9SS, a short walk from Wallace Studios at Speirs Locks.

Access is by appointment via archives@rcs.ac.uk or 0141 270 8299.