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DCA Galleries during exhibitions from 25 years ago.
DCA Stories

Glimpses into the past: digitising DCA's archives

We catch up with placement student Matilda Mitchell, who has undertaken a new project to digitise DCA's exhibition archives.

As DCA celebrates its 25th year, we’ve been delving into our archives to revisit some of the remarkable exhibitions staged in our galleries over the years.

Since opening in 1999, all exhibitions have been documented – initially on old-school film slides and transparencies, moving over to digital images in the early 2000s. Many of the slides and transparencies from DCA’s early exhibitions have not been digitised until now, when they can be shared for the first time.


Wed 3 Apr

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rom Will Maclean's exhibition in DCA. A glass case is filled with small objects, including stones, a wheel and relics.

In our history we have shown work by some of the biggest names in contemporary Scottish art, starting off with Christine Borland (What makes for the fullness and perfection of life, for beauty and happiness, is good…, 1999-2000),  Will Maclean (Driftworks, 2001-02) and Simon Starling (Djungel, 2002)  in our first three years of opening. We are delighted to be able to preserve these exhibitions for the future through our digitisation project.

In 2001, DCA was also one of the host galleries for Here + Now: Scottish Art 1990-2001, an exhibition of contemporary Scottish art held across five galleries in Dundee and Aberdeen. Thanks to these newly digitised photographs we can now rediscover this significant exhibition over twenty years later, not only in its incarnation at DCA but also at two of the other host galleries, Aberdeen Art Gallery and Peacock Visual Arts. 

Visitors to Trauma (2001)

In addition to preserving images of the art itself, ‘installation view’ shots allow us to step back into the atmosphere of the exhibition as a whole. Many of the images show the way the natural light in the galleries interacts with the works on display, as well as the innovative ways the space has been reconfigured and reimagined from show to show. Some photographs show crowds gathering in the lobby of DCA for exhibition previews, while others reveal visitors of the past contemplating pieces of art by Polly Apfelbaum and Yoshihiro Suda (The Eye of the Beholder, 2002). 

The digitisation project has been carried out by Matilda Mitchell, a student from the University of Glasgow’s Museum Studies programme who is undertaking a work placement at DCA. Working in our print studio, Matilda has been cleaning, scanning, and sorting some of these film slides, and allowing these images from our past to be rediscovered. She says:

I am delighted to have been able to undertake a work experience placement at DCA. I've gained an insight into the responsibilities of the Exhibitions team, including planning exhibitions, delivering events, and interacting with the Scottish art world. Although the process of scanning film slides can be repetitive, the Print Studio team have been so welcoming, and I’ve had a lot of fun! It is so exciting to help bring these images into the present day.
Matilda Mitchell DCA Placement Student

Thanks to Matilda’s hard work, it has been fascinating to see how our exhibitions have been experienced and enjoyed by audiences throughout DCA’s history, and we look forward to continuing to enrich people's lives through art for many years to come. Next in our Exhibitions programme for 2024-25 is Sukaina Kubba's major new solo exhibition, Turn Me Into a Flower, which opens on Sat 27 April - we can't wait to see you there.