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Museum of Scotland

 

Museum of Scotland

"Royal Museum" redirects here. For other uses, see Royal Museum (disambiguation).

National Museum of Scotland
The Museum of Scotland building, part of the National Museum of Scotland
General information
Architectural style Victorian Romanesque Revival and modern
Town or city Edinburgh
Country Scotland
Construction started 1861
Completed 1866 and 1998
Inaugurated 1866
Renovated 2011
Design and construction
Architect Benson & Forsyth
Structural engineer Anthony Hunt Associates

National Museums Scotland was formed by Act of Parliament in 1985 National Museums Scotland. Admission is free.

The two buildings retain distinctive characters: the Museum of Scotland is housed in a modern building opened in 1998, while the former Royal Museum building was begun in 1861, and partially opened in 1866, with a Victorian Romanesque Revival facade and a grand central hall of cast iron construction that rises the full height of the building. This building reopened on 29 July 2011 after a £47 million project to restore and extend the building, and redesign the exhibitions (by Ralph Appelbaum).[1]

The National Museum incorporates the collections of the former National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland, and the Royal Museum. As well as the main national collections of Scottish archaeological finds and medieval objects, the museum contains artifacts from around the world, encompassing geology, archaeology, natural history, science, technology and art. The 16 new galleries reopened in 2011 include 8,000 objects, 80 per cent of which were not formerly on display.[2] One of the more notable exhibits is the stuffed body of Dolly the sheep, the first successful clone of a mammal from an adult cell. Other highlights include Ancient Egyptian exhibitions, one of Elton John's extravagant suits and a large kinetic sculpture named the Millennium Clock. A Scottish invention that is a perennial favourite with school parties is The Maiden, an early form of guillotine.

As of 2012, the museum had 1,893,521 annual visitors. [3]

Collections

The Scottish galleries in the 1998 building cover Scottish history in an essentially chronological arrangement, beginning with prehistory to the early medieval period at the lowest level, with later periods in the higher levels. The Victorian building, as reopened in 2011, contains 16 exhibition areas, covering natural history, world cultures, which includes a gallery on the South Pacific, East Asian art, Ancient Egypt, "Art and Industry", European decorative arts including costume, and technology. The central space of the Grand Gallery contains a variety of large objects from the collections, with a display called the "Window on the World" rising four stories, or about 20 metres, containing over 800 objects of many types. The sides of the Grand Gallery at ground level contain the "Discoveries" gallery, with objects connected to "remarkable Scots ... in the fields of invention, exploration and adventure".[4]

Notable artefacts include:


Scottish antiquities

Architecture


National Museum building

The building's architecture was controversial from the start, and Prince Charles resigned as patron of the museum, in protest at the lack of consultation over its design. [6] The building is made up of geometric, Corbusian forms, but also has numerous references to Scotland, such as brochs and castellated, defensive, architecture. It is clad in golden Moray sandstone, which one of its architects, Gordon Benson, has called "the oldest exhibit in the building", a reference to Scottish geology. The building was a 1999 Stirling Prize nominee.

Royal Museum building

Construction was started in 1861 and proceeded in phases, with some sections opening before others had even begun construction. The original extent of the building was completed in 1888. It was designed by civil engineer Captain Francis Fowke of the Royal Engineers, who is also responsible for the Royal Albert Hall. The exterior, designed in a Venetian Renaissance style, contrasts sharply with the light flooded main hall or Grand Gallery, inspired by The Crystal Palace. A second atrium-style hall now contains larger exhibits from the natural history collection at ground level, with some suspended above.

Numerous extensions to the back have extended the museum greatly since then. In 1998, the Museum of Scotland opened, which is linked internally to the Royal Museum. The redevelopment completed in 2011 by Gareth Hoskins Architects uses former storage areas to form a vaulted Entrance Hall of 1400 sq M at street level with visitor facilities. This involved lowering the floor level by 1.2 metres. Despite being a Class A listed building, it was possible to add lifts and escalators.[2]

History

The history of the museum can be said to begin in 1780 with the foundation of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, which still continues, but whose collection of archaeological and other finds was transferred to the government in 1858 as the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland, based in Queen Street in the New Town, Edinburgh. In 1861 construction of the Royal Museum (originally the Industrial Museum) began with Prince Albert laying the foundation stone. In 1866, the eastern end, including the Grand Gallery, was opened by Prince Afred. In 1888 the building was finished and in 1904 renamed the Royal Scottish Museum (or Royal Museum of Scotland), and again in 1995 as the Royal Museum.

The organizational merger of the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland and the Royal Scottish Museum took place in 1985, but the two collections kept their separate buildings until 1995 when Queen Street closed, to reopen as the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, and in 1998 the new Museum of Scotland building opened, next door to the Royal Museum, and connected to it. The plan to redevelop the Royal and further integrate the two buildings and collections was launched in 2004, and in 2006 the two museums were formally merged into the National Museum of Scotland. The old Royal Museum building closed for redevelopment in 2008, before reopening in July 2011. [2]

Initially, much of the Royal Museum's collection came from the Museum of Edinburgh University, and there is a bridge connecting the museum to the University's Old College building. The students saw the collection as their own, and curators would often find the exhibits rearranged or even missing. The final straw came in the 1870s, when students who were holding a party found that the museum was also holding a reception for local dignitaries, and had stored refreshments in the bridge. When the museum found the refreshments missing, the bridge was bricked up the next day, and has remained so since.

The Royal Museum displayed prank exhibits on April Fool's Day on at least one occasion. In 1975, a fictitious bird called the Bare-fronted Hoodwink (known for its innate ability to fly away from observers before they could accurately identify it) was put on display. The exhibit included photos of blurry birds flying away. To make the exhibit more convincing, a mount of the bird was sewn together by a taxidermist from various scraps of real birds, including the head of a Carrion Crow, the body of a Plover, and the feet of an unknown waterfowl. The bare front was composed of wax.[7]

Gallery

See also

  • Gordon Rintoul, Director

References

External links

  • Official website
  • Hugh Pearman

Coordinates: 55°56′49″N 3°11′24″W / 55.94694°N 3.19000°W / 55.94694; -3.19000de:Royal Museum fr:Musée royal d'Écosse he:המוזיאון המלכותי של סקוטלנד pt:Museu Real da Escócia simple:Royal Museum

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