Past Exhibitions

A world of wonder.

Delve into our past exhibitions, displays and installations featuring the historic Bute Collection.

Folio 400: The Bute First Folio

17th April - 3rd May 2023

As part of the UK and Ireland Folio400 celebrations in 2023, the Mount Stuart Trust was delighted to partner with the University of Glasgow and the National Library of Scotland in making three Scottish copies of Shakespeare's First Folio accessible to the public for the 400 anniversary of the First Folio's publication. Folio400 was a UK wide event to celebrate the 400th Birthday of the First Folio - the first printed edition of Shakespeare’s collected plays - in 2023. The First Folio collection contains 36 of Shakespeare's plays, 18 of which were published here for the first time, saving works such as The Tempest and Macbeth from being lost to history. The Bute First Folio is cared for in the Bute Collection at Mount Stuart, and we were delighted to share this precious printed book with school groups and visitors to Mount Stuart on the anniversary year. Click here for more information on our collaborative celebration of Shakespeare's First Folios across Scotland in 2023.

Fantasy to Fabrication: 19th Century Design at Mount Stuart

25th May - 30th October 2022

Journey from sketchbook to finished object in Mount Stuart’s exhibition of Victorian decorative art, displayed alongside original design drawings from the Bute Collection. This exhibition celebrated the imagination, eclecticism, and creative process of acclaimed 19th-century designers William Burges, Horatio Walter Lonsdale, Robert Weir Schultz, Sir Robert Lorimer and William Morris. Assembling spectacular examples of jewellery, furniture, watercolours, books, stained glass, silver and other metalwork - it explored the Bute family legacy of commissioning and collecting Arts & Crafts and Gothic Revival masterpieces. Curated in-house, this was the first time that many of these treasures from the Bute Collection were exhibited publicly, paired with several rarely seen objects on loan from national institutions, such as RIBA and the V&A Museum.

Mary, Queen of Scots

2nd May 2019 - 27th October 2019

Held in the Purple Library, Mary, Queen of Scots, was an intimate show featuring a diverse range of artefacts, artworks, manuscripts and books exploring the facts and fiction surrounding Scotland’s best known monarch. Mary Stuart (1542-1587) is one of history’s most compelling and controversial characters and has been the subject of paintings, plays, books and films from the time of her execution in 1587 to the present day. At the centre of the exhibition was an original manuscript containing Sir Robert Wingfield of Upton’s captivating eyewitness account of Mary’s execution in February, 1587. The graphic account – also available in transcription from our Online Shop – was joined by rare contemporary 16th-century depictions of the Queen, amongst them a charming, hand-drawn illustration by an anonymous Scottish scribe showing the tall Queen towering over her diminutive French husband.

Art of Power: Treasures from the Bute Collection

31st March 2017 - 14th January 2018

This collaborative exhibition across two venues - Mount Stuart and The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow - introduced to the public one of the foremost private collections in the UK. One of the great strengths of the Bute Collection are the important Dutch and Flemish works collected in the 1760s and 1770s by John Stuart, Third Earl of Bute (1713–1792). At Luton Hoo, the Third Earl settled down to become the most important British collector of Dutch paintings, assembling for the purpose a library and collection of prints and drawings (dispersed 1794-1809). The exhibition of 26 pictures at the University of Glasgow provided a window onto the riches of Mount Stuart, such as jewel-like landscapes by Savery, Cuyp, Berchem, and Ruisdael, as well as genre scenes by Steen, Teniers, and Metsu. Visitors to Mount Stuart saw the extraordinary collection of family portraits by Batoni, Ramsay and Reynolds as well as works by Hobbema, Steen, Willem van Herp and Pieter van Slingelandt.

House to Hospital

11th November 2014

From 1914 to 1919 Mount Stuart was transformed into a naval hospital when Augusta Crichton Stuart, 4th Marchioness of Bute, offered the House to the Admiralty. Over 2,000 patients were admitted and treated at Mount Stuart; the Marble Hall, Drawing Room and Dining Room were all used as Wards and the Conservatory became an operating theatre. To commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, Mount Stuart Trust was delighted to present a pop-up exhibition telling the story of how the house was transformed into a fully-functioning Royal Naval Hospital. The pop-up exhibition featured objects, such as beds and equipment that were used on the wards in the House, as well as books, archival records, and precious photography documenting the lives of the patients who were treated and recovered at Mount Stuart.

Burns on Bute

28th January 2011

To celebrate Burns Night, Mount Stuart Trust was delighted to offer an exclusive pop-up display and tour of Mount Stuart House, looking at a variety of historical objects that help shed light on Burns the man, the Scotland into which he was born, and the lasting legacy of his glittering literary and cultural achievements. The pop-up display included books, artefacts and archival material relating to subjects that inspired Burns, particularly the Act of Union between Scotland and England of 1707 and the Jacobite Rising of 1745-6. Works by other great Scots from the time in which Burns flourished were also displayed, including portraits by the great portrait painter Allan Ramsay, designs by the architect Robert Adam, and works by another celebrated Ayrshire literary figure James Boswell.

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