National Museum of Scotland’s £12m plans win lottery backing
From the world’s first Dunlop pneumatic tyre to the Emperor Napoleon’s personal tea service, a stunning array of objects are lined up for eight new galleries at the National Museum of Scotland, after a £12 million development won the backing of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The galleries, showcasing Scottish and international achievement from haute couture fashion collections to working models of wave power, are the latest phase in a £70m transformation of the building that has drawn two million visitors since it reopened a year ago.
The HLF announced a £4.85m award towards the £11.85m project, with work on the eight new spaces due to complete by 2016, on top of 16 galleries that opened a year ago.
The surge of visitors to the museum, from its stylishly restored Grand Gallery to its spectacular summer exhibition of the treasures of Catherine the Great, has more than doubled the previous annual total of about 800,000.
The director of National Museums Scotland, Dr Gordon Rintoul, said: “The transformation over the past few years has made this museum one of the great national museums of the world, and I’m entirely confident the project will cement its position and attract even more visitors.”
Many objects will be on show for the first time in decades.
The 1888 prototype pneumatic tyre made by John Boyd Dunlop will feature in a gallery devoted to design engineering, reaching forward to bicycle and bridge designs and even pioneering prosthetic limbs.
The Scottish inventor Robert William Thomson, whose pneumatic “aerial tyre” predated Dunlop’s by 40 years, will also receive overdue recognition.
A gallery of scientific inquiry will range from early telescopes and microscopes to the work of Edinburgh University Professor Peter Higgs, of “the Higgs boson” fame.
Another will feature Salter’s duck, the wave-power device invented by his Edinburgh colleague, Professor Stephen Salter.
“These are world-beating ideas and developments, but they are Scottish,” said Alexander Hayward, the museum’s keeper of science and technology.
Four design galleries will feature fashion collections of Jean Muir and the Scottish-based textile designer Bernat Klein, alongside historic treasures including the silver-gilt Napoloeonic tea service and the £5 million gold-mounted Byzantine bowl assigned to the museum this month in an inheritance tax deal, the most valuable single object it has acquired.
Lottery fund director in Scotland, Colin McLean, said: “We are backing success.”
The eight galleries will replace the current Shaping our World, European Styles, Looking East, Art and Industry and Egypt Galleries.
A further phase will see the creation of new Far Eastern and Egyptian galleries.
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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