Matthew Jarron, Curator of Museums Services, highlights the enduring value of the University’s Museum Collections.

“The University of Dundee is renowned for the quality of its student experience, and using real artefacts, artworks and specimens to support coursework is a great way to enhance learning and teaching. Last year a record 27 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at the University made use of Museum Services to create distinctive projects and learning environments. These included Anatomy, Biological Sciences, Creative Writing, Environmental Science, Graphic Design, Medical Art and Product Design.

“Recent examples include Illustration and Graphic Design students creating books and magazine articles inspired by D’Arcy Thompson; postgraduate students in Human Clinical Embryology and Assisted Conception looking at 19th and 20th century embryo models; Creative Writing students taking inspiration from specimens in the Herbarium; and DJCAD General Foundation Course students looking at our design chair collection.

“Museum Services also provides annual work placements for undergraduate and postgraduate students from the Universities of Dundee, St Andrews and Aberdeen.  Currently, 2nd year Psychology student Sarah Cowan is creating a new display of old psychology equipment in the Scrymgeour Building as part of her internship module.

“Students from various other institutions also came to use the collections, including a recent group visit to the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum by art and design students from Dundee & Angus College. ”

The value of 3D learning 

Dr Steve Gellatly, a teacher in the School of Medicine, has used the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum as a teaching resource for his students.

“Recently, I took 13 students on the MSc in Human Clinical and Assisted Conception course to the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum to look at the extraordinary collection of models of developing embryos,” he explained.

“Much of the teaching we do involves learning embryology down a microscope and using textbook diagrams, but 2D static illustrations have limited value in highlighting the 3D dynamics of early embryogenesis. The students were amazed at how handling the models, variously made from papier mache, ceramic, wax and plastic, inspired their curiosity and boosted their learning.

“The models are able to give the microscopic structures tangible form, and being able to rotate and manipulate models and see them from various angles was a powerful way for the students to understand embryo development. Learning using the models in a group setting in the museum encouraged a lively discussion and sharing of knowledge, essential for any student’s academic development.

“The museum collections provide a fantastic resource to facilitate postgraduate learning through specimen-based teaching. Best known for their historical value, special collections are also powerful educational tools. ”