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The University of Edinburgh Heritage Collections are responsible for the artworks, archives, rare books, musical instruments, geological and anatomical collections at the University. This includes the archives and artworks of the Edinburgh College of Art Collection. 

The Heritage Collections are extensive in size and content and are used to support teaching and research at the University. Collections can be accessed at the Centre for Research Collections in the University’s Main Library as well as at the School of Scottish Studies Archive, St Cecilia’s Hall Concert Room and Music Museum, the Anatomy Museum and Cockburn Geological Museum.

The Art Collection can also be seen displayed across many campus buildings, for example the Edinburgh Cast Collection, which can be encountered across the ECA buildings in the form of 265 plaster casts of antique, Renaissance, and Gothic statues, bas reliefs, and architectural passages. Other works like Katie Paterson’s Ideas, a large-scale commission for the King’s Buildings campus, are located outdoors.  

Since 2012, the Art Collection has acquired artworks by ECA artists through the annual Graduate Show Purchase Prize. By 2023, over 100 artworks of all media by over 60 graduates have been purchased in this way. All the Collections are available to use by staff and students for teaching and research. Students at ECA can use collections to inform their work and research through online resources, visiting in person, volunteering, or taking part in one of the many projects and exhibitions that the Heritage Collections team run to explore and display the collections.

Some previous ways that ECA students and staff have interacted with the Collections include creating exhibitions with recent acquisitions of moving image, attending workshops and talks by artists whose work has been acquired by the Art Collection, writing essays and dissertations on contemporary artworks, taking part in conversations around acquisitions and visiting new art commissions on campus as part of courses. 

Collections staff include curators, archivists and conservators who are also involved in research and teaching at ECA and the wider University. Staff in the Centre for Research Collections also assist with enquiries, access, and other services offered by the Heritage Collections. 

Header image: 
Cymraeg Ddrwg, (Installation Shot) Ffion Williams, 2023
ECA Degree Show Purchase Prize 2023
Image by University of Edinburgh Cultural Heritage Digitisation Service

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