Scotland's Oldest University
This review is especially helpful for those who have or use the following: Powerchair
Tucked away in the same street as the castle, this little gem of a museum tells the history of St Andrews University, which was founded in 1413. Interesting displays in all the four galleries, which are all on the ground floor. A roof terrace provides stunning views across St Andrews Bay to the distant Angus hills. Staff have done an excellent job in making the museum accessible to all. Well worth a visit.
Transport & Parking
St Andrews can be reached by the main roads A91, A917, and A915. The nearest railway station is Leuchars, 10.2 miles or 16km away, approximately 20 minutes by car. Accessible taxis can be booked in advance - contact Williamsons on 01334 476787. There is a regular bus service from Dundee via Leuchars station into St Andrews, Stagecoach route no.99 has low floor access, wheelchair access and Wi-Fi. All no.99 buses go to St Andrews bus station, 0.5 miles or 0.8 km from MUSA. The 99A, 99B and 99D go into the centre of St Andrews. The no.92 bus goes from St Andrews bus station to North Street, which is 0.2 miles or 0.3km from MUSA. From North Street you can walk down Butts Wynd and MUSA is opposite at the end of the lane, on The Scores. Bus timetables can be found at https://www.stagecoachbus.com/timetables. MUSA is situated on The Scores, set back from the road, with flat, paved access on a gentle downward slope from the street to the museum entrance. Parking is free on The Scores, which is one way. There is also free parking available at the North Haugh and West Sands car parks. Paid parking spaces are available in the town centre although on street parking is free for Blue Badge holders. There is a cobbled surface at the entrance to the carpark, between the street and the carpark, although there is a level tarmac section at the archway to the left of the car park entrance. There are two accessible parking spaces in the car park at the front of the museum and level access from the car park to the museum entrance on a paved path. The museum carpark can be used for drop off before parking in the street We parked nearby on street on The Scores on this visit.
Entry is free to all visitors. A general guidebook and children's guidebook can be purchased from reception. The free audio guide to the galleries that were previously available to visitors will soon be replaced by an app and tablets are currently on order. These will have the audio and visual tour uploaded onto them. There are also plans to have a BSL tour and audio description tour added to the tablets, which should be ready at the end of June 2017. They will be available from reception. The main entrance is through a level entry, automatic door, which is operated by a push pad on a post to the right of the door and a push button inside to exit. The floor surface is tiled, with a fixed matting area just inside the entrance door. The reception area is well lit with LED spotlights and downlights. Part of the reception desk is lower to make it accessible for wheelchair users. There is an induction loop at the reception desk and another in the Learning Loft. A portable induction loop can be provided by prior arrangement for use during events and tours. A magnifying glass can also be made available if required. MUSA has a small gift shop beside reception on the ground floor. Bench seating is available in two of the galleries, as well as on the roof terrace and lightweight, portable, folding stools are also provided to take around the museum. These can be picked up from Gallery 1 at the start. Interpretation in the galleries is in the form of printed text panels and labels and galleries include both manual and digital interactive activities. The four galleries on the ground floor all have level access from reception and between galleries and are extremely spacious. Some of the flooring is tiled, and other areas are wood. There are no doors between galleries. All galleries are lit with a combination of ceiling spotlights and downlights as well as lighting inside display cases. Galleries 2 and 3 have some natural light as well. Gallery 1 has lower light levels due to the sensitive nature of some of the medieval material displayed. Upstairs, in the Learning Loft there are various interactive activities to try. This area is used for receptions and workshops for schools and can be hired for events by external groups. Group tours can also be provided by prior arrangement. There is an 8-person lift to the upper floor, with audio announcement and level access to the Learning Loft. A very slight ramp sits outside the door to the Roof Terrace. Outside the lift next to the toilet, there is a Refuge Point for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility with a door into a corridor leading to stairs. A call system and an Evac chair are available here for evacuation purposes in the event of a fire. All fire exits are clearly signposted and all staff are trained in evacuation procedures. The Loft floor surface is linoleum in the activity area and carpet in the seating / lecture area. The Learning Loft has a sloped ceiling around the edge of the room, which is lit by dimmable fluorescent lighting. There is also natural light from 3 windows. The door to the roof terrace is operated by a push button and it opens inwards. The terrace is level, with a paved surface. It has two fixed benches, without arms. A red light on the terrace indicates that the fire alarm has been activated. On the roof terrace, a ‘Talking Telescope’ describes the spectacular view from the terrace in detail. A specially designed working sun dial accurately tells the time all year round. Wheelchair users can enjoy the stunning views over St Andrews Bay and across to the Eden Estuary and the distant Angus hills thanks to a clear glass panel the corner of the terrace down to floor level. There are items of fixed sculpture on the terrace. Assistance dogs are welcome at MUSA and drinking bowls are available on request. Large print versions of all text in temporary exhibitions are available in the gallery. Staff have had training to provide audio description, which can be arranged with prior notice. Printed foreign language guides are also available from reception. There is a paved area to the front of the museum with benches. A paved path to the side of the museum leads to a viewing area over the cliffs and out to sea. There is a bench in this area.
Toilets are signposted from reception. They were very clean and tidy. There is a unisex accessible toilet next to the reception plus separate male and female toilets. The accessible toilet includes both horizontal and vertical grab bars, and an assistance alarm through to museum reception. There are automatic sensors on the taps. The baby change table is incorporated in the accessible toilet. There is also one unisex (not accessible) toilet on the first floor. The toilets are lit by fluorescent lighting, activated by automatic motion sensor.
MUSA staff and volunteers were extremely helpful, friendly and approachable. All Visitor Services staff have completed the Visit Scotland Accessibility training module. They have also had ‘Just Ask’ sensory awareness training through the Fife Sensory Impairment Centre, which aims to make services and facilities accessible to those living with a sensory loss. They have done a wonderful job in putting it all into practice and they made us feel very welcome. .
Anything else you wish to tell us?
I never thought the history of a university could be so interesting. I look forward to going back to have another look. I can highly recommend it. You can find out all about it here. www.standrews.ac.uk/musa Opening times 1 November to 31st March - Thursday to Sunday: 12 noon - 4pm 1st April to 31st October - Monday to Saturday: 10am - 5pm Sunday: 12 noon - 4pm