Alcoholics Anonymous exhibition opens at Kevingrove

The world’s first museum display on Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has opened in the community exhibition space at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Alcoholics Anonymous exhibition opens at Kevingrove

Darkness into Light: The story of Alcoholics Anonymous in Scotland was curated by members of AA Archives Scotland. The inspiring exhibition details the society’s history and ongoing work in the community, from its first meeting in Scotland in 1948 into a country-wide organisation, which has helped countless individuals affected by alcoholism.

Darkness into Light: The story of Alcoholics Anonymous in Scotland is an archives display. It contains famous photographs, significant documents and letters and newspaper clippings that chart the founding of and vital role undertaken by the group across Scotland today.

An unassuming photograph taken in the Mayflower Hotel, Ohio on 10 June 1935 shows the hotel’s telephone box, yet it was the destination for a momentous call. While struggling to stay sober stockbroker Bill Wilson called fellow alcoholic doctor Dr Bob Smith. Together they proceeded to develop a ‘way out’ from the ‘disease of alcoholism’, by founding a fellowship that has changed the life of millions, by offering hope and recovery for those who have a desire to stop drinking – Alcoholics Anonymous. By 1939 AA had 100 members. It is estimated in excess of 1 million weekly meetings are now held worldwide, although the organisation keeps no personal information on its members and asks nothing of them except their first name.

Alongside the photograph is one of Sir Philip Dundas who, after being introduced to the group in America, is credited as being the pioneer for establishing Alcoholics Anonymous in Scotland. The exhibition features a newspaper cutting from the Sunday Mail 22 August 1948, which reads “Alcoholics Anonymous Come to Scotland. Six men who met in a Church vestry in Perth this weekend made Scottish history – when they formed the first Scots branch of Alcoholics Anonymous.” Sir Philip continued to travel throughout the country and in 1949 a group in Edinburgh and Glasgow registered with the Alcoholics Anonymous General Service Office in New York.

Sir Philip’s granddaughter Henrietta ‘Henny’ Dundas joined Andy Cudden, assistant manager of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to officially open the exhibition.

Alcoholics Anonymous play a major role in prisons, hospitals and schools all over Scotland and the rest of the UK. People from all walks of life seek help with their addictions and embark on the 12step programme. AA has nearly one thousand groups in Scotland, with 300 of these groups holding weekly meetings in and around the Glasgow area. Details of where an individual can attend a meeting, the AA helpline, which answers in excess of 65,000 calls a year and the website, are all given in the exhibition.

Darkness into Light: The story of Alcoholics Anonymous in Scotland is open now in the community exhibition space on the first floor of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and runs until 18 January 2018.

Last Updated: 7 October 2017 14:53

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