School of Art

Contact Details

School of Art
Aberystwyth University
Buarth Mawr
SY23 1NG

Tel: +44 (0)1970 622460

Fax: +44 (0)1970 622461


The General Museum

The development of the University's General Museum was principally the work of Frederick William Rudler (1840–1915) who became the first curator in 1876. His intention was to found a central or national museum for Wales in Aberystwyth concentrating particularly on the mining industries. In only three years he amassed large numbers of specimens by appeals for gifts.

The General Museum, <br> housed in the Old College

The General Museum,
housed in the Old College

Rudler also amassed a great deal of geological, botanical and palaeontological material, some through an exchange with other museums. Rudler's views on collecting and the role of the Museum are expressed in his article for the College Magazine: 'The old coin, the autograph or the pot-sherd may teach more of real vivid history than an ordinary student can learn from many pages of a book.' Such a statement anticipates a tenet dear to many latter-day students of material culture, not least art historians. In 1879, at the end of Rudler's short time as Curator, George E. J. Powell began to donate his collections, initially in the form of Roman and Egyptian antiquities

Items from the General Museum,<br> including items from the Powell Collections

Items from the General Museum,
including items from the Powell Collections

Professor Hubert John Fleure (1877-1969) kept the Museum going in one form or another from c.1910 until 1929. Fleure, who was the first Professor of Geography in Britain, extracted enough voluntary support and money from the University for the continued existence of the Museum. His interests were as wide-ranging as Rudler's; he wrote many works on anthropology. A humanist and a keen advocate of the ideas of William Morris, Fleure was eager for the Museum to promote the Arts & Crafts Movement's philosophy as part of a more broadly based educational provision for students, schoolchildren and local people. With inadequate resources it was to be an uphill struggle. Fleure's often repeated hope that the Museum should be instrumental in 'liberalising' the students' education was in great danger of remaining unrealised until Gwendoline and Margaret Davies of Llandinam intervened with their generous gift to the Museum in 1918.