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‌What's On

This is a selection of upcoming exhibitions, activities and events at MUSA's venues. For a full list of events please visit 

Booking information

All events and exhibitions are free but some must be booked. To book please email or call 01334 46 1660.

If you would benefit from an audio description before or during an event please let us know at the time of booking.



Encountering Africa: Henri Gaden’s Life and Photography in Colonial French West Africa, 1894 - 1939

5th October 2017 - 25th February 2018
Henri Gaden was a French colonial officer who lived in West Africa for 45 years. An ethnographer, linguist and gifted photographer, Gaden captured on camera a rich variety of encounters with Africa – from landscapes, architecture and trade to military campaigns and colonial life at numerous outposts. He also documented everyday village life, local music, dance and ritual. Gaden’s striking photographic images, exhibited for the first time, provide rare insights into colonial French West Africa and its people.

Family Programme

Baby MUSA Time

First Friday of the month, 10:15am-11:15am & again 2pm-3pm
Held every month, Baby MUSA Time allows your little one to discover some of the fantastic things found in museums through stories, songs, art and messy play. This drop-in activity is for pre-school children and whoever looks after them. The MUSA Learning Loft provides a place to relax, park your buggy and enjoy time with your children.
Friday 3 November   Sound and Music
Friday 1 December   Winter Wonderland


Out of the Box: Diwali

Each Sunday in October, 1pm-3pm (All ages)
Celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of light. Decorate a henna hand, find out the story of Rama and Sita and add some colourful, crafty fireworks to our night sky.

Young Archaeologists

Have you got the curiosity and patience to piece together evidence from the past? Join us on the last weekend of each month at MUSA to develop your archaeology skills and discover fascinating facts about people of the past. Free, but booking essential.
Saturday 28 October        Food and Drink
Saturday 25 November     Stone Age Skills

Autumn workshops

African Encounters

Thursday 19th October, 10am-10:45am (3-6 years) & 11am-12pm (7-12 years)
Travel back to colonial West Africa in the late 1800s and experience a day in the life of the villagers photographed by Henri Gaden. See if you can grind grain for bread, make pots and wash clothes without a machine, then kick back and relax with some African music and dance!

African Drumming

Saturday 21st October, 2-3pm (All ages)   Fully booked
The djembe drum, from West Africa, is one of the most versatile percussion instruments on the planet, producing a wide range of sounds. Come and try it for yourself in this fun and friendly workshop with ‘Infectious Grooves’. Suitable for all ages and abilities but booking essential. Held at MUSA. 

Marvellous Mud Brick

Friday 17th November, 2pm-2:45pm (3-6 years) & 3pm-4pm (7-12 years)
Find out how people have transformed messy, mucky mud into the world’s most fantastic buildings then design your own marvellous mud brick model inspired by Gaden’s photographs of West Africa. Held at MUSA, free but booking essential.

Adult Programme  


African Drumming

Saturday 21st October, 2pm-3pm   Fully booked
The djembe drum, from West Africa, is one of the most versatile percussion instruments on the planet, producing a wide range of sounds. Come and try it for yourself in this fun and friendly workshop with ‘Infectious Grooves’. Suitable for all ages and abilities, including family groups. Held at MUSA. Free, but booking essential.

Busy Beeswax Candles

Bell Pettigrew Museum
Saturday 2nd December 1:30pm-3:30pm
Be inspired by the bees and insects on display at the Bell Pettigrew Museum to create your own beeswax candles. Join Alison from Beesy’s Beeswax Candles for a creative afternoon making a selection of candles and a delightful decorative gift box to keep them in. A perfect advent activity! Free, but booking essential.

Talks and tours 

Nearly Native, Barely Civilized: Henri Gaden’s Journey Across Colonial French Africa

Thursday 2nd November, 5:30pm-6:15pm
Join Roy Dilley, Professor of Social Anthropology and curator of ‘Encountering Africa’, as he describes Henri Gaden’s experiences in West Africa over a period of 45 years from 1894, when he first set foot on the continent, to his death in 1939. Roy will chart the personal transformation Gaden underwent, from a 19th-century bourgeois Frenchman with all the prejudices of his era to a colonial officer and later Governor of Mauritania, who cultivated a cultural sensitivity towards, and deep appreciation of, West Africa and its people. Held at MUSA, free but booking required.

The Natural History of Birds

Bell Pettigrew Museum
Saturday 4th November, 11am-12pm
Birds are a highly unusual animal group. The descendants of small, feathered dinosaurs, these animals show spectacular adaptations, including the evolution of intelligence comparable to that of apes. This tour of the Bell Pettigrew Museum, led by Curator, Dr Carl Smith, will examine some of the adaptations of birds, and consider why being ‘bird-brained’ is actually a compliment. Free but booking required.

Footprints and Flints: the Happisburgh Project

Wednesday 8th November, 5:30pm-6:15pm
Find out about the chance discovery in 2013 of ancient human footprints at Happisburgh, Norfolk and how they relate to nearby finds of 900,000 year-old flint tools. Join Dr Richard Bates from the School of Geography and Geosciences to learn how his research has helped us understand Britain’s landscapes, environment and earliest settlers. Held at MUSA, free but booking required.


North Uist – the ‘Scottish Galapagos’

Bell Pettigrew Museum
Saturday 18th November, 11am-12pm
The remote Hebridean island of North Uist supports the greatest diversity of body shapes of stickleback fishes on Earth - a rare example of an evolutionary radiation, comparable to that seen in Darwin’s finches on the Galapagos Islands. This tour by Dr Carl Smith will consider why North Uist provides the conditions for sticklebacks to undergo rapid evolutionary diversification. Held at the Bell Pettigrew Museum. Free, but booking required.

The Evolution of Beauty in Nature

Bell Pettigrew Museum
Saturday 2nd December, 11am-12pm
Does natural selection explain everything we see in nature? Or can the act of choosing a mate on purely aesthetic grounds also represent an evolutionary force? This tour by Dr Carl Smith will explore how choosing mates can generate the extraordinary range of ornaments we see in the natural world. Held at the Bell Pettigrew Museum. Free, but booking required.

Films and artefacts series

For this unique series of events MUSA has teamed up with the Byre Film Club to bring you some of your favourite films paired with a curator’s talk on an associated topic. You’ll have chance to see intriguing objects from behind-the-scenes of the museum and your ticket includes a cuppa and scone (available from 10am). Screenings begin at 10:30am and will be followed by a talk of approximately 15 minutes.
Held at the Byre Theatre, Abbey Street. Tickets £6. Tel. 01334 475000. 

The Light Between Oceans

Byre Theatre
Thursday 26th October, 10:30 am
What exactly is a ‘kodja’ and a ‘taap’ and whywere they brought allthe way from Australiato Scotland in the early 1800s? These rareartefacts provide a fascinating insight intothe past lives ofmuseum objects, stories ofencounters and the motives of 19thcenturycollectors.

The Dam Busters

Byre Theatre
Thursday 9th November, 10.30 am
Catch a glimpse of Scotland’s landscapes, buildings and livelihoods depicted in the University’s Recording Scotland Collection and discover why artists were enlisted during the Second World War to create this important visual archive.