The Association’s History
The booklet ‘A Short History of the Perthshire Art Association’ (1912 – 1990) by a past President PAA Walter R. McNiven gives us the stages of growth over the years. He noted that some 150 years ago there was a growing interest in Art generally in Perth and Perthshire which possibly had an influence on the eventual formation of an Art Organisation in 1784. The Literary and Antiquarian Society of Perth was founded with the role of preserving works of Art for the benefit of the community.
Early in the 19th century the Society was to find accommodation to display these works a problem, due to the amassing of works of Art. In 1824 the Marshall Monument was opened in George Street, Perth, providing space for display of a small collection of paintings and other objects. This building now forms part of the present Museum and Art Gallery. Many paintings were gifted to the City of Perth and in 1878 were exhibited in the City Hall to the general public. Other exhibitions followed which created an enormous problem to the Town Council with regard to storage and display. This was alleviated by the opening of the Sandeman Library in 1898. On 21 November 1899, the Sandeman Art Committee was appointed to administer the activities of the Sandeman Gallery. The Art Association for the City and County of Perth was formed on 9 November 1912 with R. Hay Robertson as Chairman of the Management Committee. The first Exhibition of Works of Art was held in the Sandeman Library Gallery in 1913 and continued until 1931.
The Perth Art Gallery and Museum opened in George Street in 1935 with bequest from R. Hay Robertson and another member of the first Committee of Management of the Association, Mr. Robert Brough, who was also Hon. Vice President of PAA in 1926 – 1927. The Association struggled to survive in the 1930s and eventually went into abeyance in 1935. In January 1952, at the instigation of the then Curator of the Museum, William Davidson, assisted by Elspeth Galloway, DA, an Exhibition of works by Perthshire Artists was held in the Museum and Art Gallery and a meeting was held thereafter which led to the reconstitution of the Perthshire Art Association and it has been active ever since.
The quest for suitable accommodation for Association activities has been ongoing.
Since 1953, the Local Authority, initially Perth Town Council and through various Local Government Re-organisations to the present Perth and Kinross Council, has leased rooms to the Association at such venues as Fechney Buildings, The Old Academy, Rose Terrace, Pitheavlis Castle, The Fair Maid’s House and latterly Oakbank Community Centre.
The acquirement of the Fair Maid’s House by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society has meant that the Association is once again looking to the Council for satisfactory permanent accommodation arrangements.