The doors to Aberdeen Maritime Museum may be closed to real-life visitors at the moment, but from today (Wednesday 24 June) the popular Aberdeen attraction joins Aberdeen Art Gallery in welcoming virtual visitors via Smartify, the world’s most downloaded museum app.

Pre-Covid-19, the innovative app allowed people to instantly identify artworks by scanning them on a smartphone. Since the start of lockdown, the app has kept visitors connected with their favourite collections through audio and visual tours. Users can even build their own personalised collection and use augmented reality to bring life-size artworks and objects into their homes.

Since Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums venues closed to the public on 19 March, staff have been working away at kitchen tables, in spare rooms and garden sheds to develop new ways for audiences to access the Collection of National Significance it cares for on behalf of the people of Aberdeen. Many have become adept at recording audio under duvets and in hall cupboards.

Aberdeen Maritime Museum tells the story of the city’s long relationship with the sea. The museum houses a unique collection covering the development of the harbour and important industries such as fishing and shipbuilding. It is also recognised as the lead museum for the UK offshore energy industries. From today, virtual visitors can listen from the comfort and safety of their living rooms as curators, learning officers and museum assistants extend an invitation to ‘Discover Aberdeen Maritime Museum’.

Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokeswoman said: “The Smartify app highlights the importance of museums and galleries to our wellbeing. During lockdown it has helped keep us connected with our city’s culture and heritage through the Art Gallery virtual tour, and now the Maritime Museum. T

“This latest tour is a testament to the lives of the people who shaped Aberdeen as a city with international maritime connections since the earliest times. Discover Aberdeen Maritime Museum tells many stories of endeavour, innovation and bravery as well as the importance of the sea to ordinary people’s lives.”

Highlights include ship models, paintings, a harpoon gun and chronometer that illustrate themes of fishing, whaling, shipbuilding, clippers, wrecks and the offshore oil and gas industries. The tour features the towering scale model of the Murchison Oil Platform which dominates the museum entrance. Collecting objects related to the North Sea oil and gas industry began in the 1970s when the maritime collection was showcased in the Cowdray Hall basement of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Regional Museum.

The first acquisition to the maritime collection was a model of the steam ship S.S. Thermopylae built at Hall Russell for the Aberdeen line of George Thompson in 1891. Designed as a passenger and cargo vessel, it incorporated the ‘Aberdeen bow’ shape developed earlier in the century at another of the city’s yards, that of Alexander Hall. This form of raking bow, sleek hull lines and extensive sail allowed it to move quicker through the water. On its maiden voyage it sailed from London to Melbourne in just 63 days which still stands as the fastest voyage under sail.

Smartify is available to download free of charge from the App Store and Google Play or visit https://smartify.org/tour/discover-aberdeen-maritime-museum-tour

For more ways to explore Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums collections visit the Museum From Home page on the website at www.aagm.co.uk

To find out more about over 3,000 recorded vessels built in Aberdeen since 1811 visit www.aberdeenbuiltships.com