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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 June, 2003, 17:21 GMT 18:21 UK
University treasures on show
Fleming's penicillin is one of many items on display
A phial of Sir Alexander Fleming's penicillin is among a host of rare artefacts to go on display in Edinburgh.

More than 60 pieces, including works of fine art, design objects, historic artefacts and rare manuscripts, will be seen by the public for the first time at the city's Talbot Rice Gallery.

The items have been collected by Edinburgh University during its history and relate to a number of famous figures from Scotland's past.

As well as Fleming's phial, class cards belonging to former medical student Charles Darwin and a chloroform bottle belonging to James Young Simpson will go on show when the exhibition opens to the public on Saturday.

A psalter made for St Margaret of Scotland - one of Scotland's earliest books - and the skull of Scots humanist philosopher George Buchanan, who was tutor to James VI, will also be on display.

The exhibition's curator, Professor Duncan Macmillan, said the quality of the exhibits showed Edinburgh University's steady history of achievement.


He said: "The story of human achievement is a roll call of great names, but there are not many institutions that can claim a place alongside the men and women whose names appear there.

"Edinburgh University certainly can make that claim. It can do so too, not for occasional moments of distinction, but for a steady history of achievement over centuries."

He added: "The exhibition will demonstrate the role of collections and collecting in research, exploring the threads of intellectual development that link objects over time and which reflect continuous lines of thought that have evolved over centuries, connecting the past with preoccupations that are still current today."

Other curiosities going on display include Napier's Bones, the first calculating device and a forerunner of the computer, a coffee pot belonging to the founding father of sociology, Adam Ferguson and the only known authentic painted portrait of the Reformer John Knox.

Entitled Object Lessons: Highlights from the Collections of Edinburgh University, the exhibition will run from 7 June until 19 July.

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