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Home to Scotland's first kings - now £10m museum to be town's new crowning glory

It is the historic royal capital of Scotland and the home town of Andrew Carnegie, the celebrated Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist.

Yet Dunfermline, home of Scotland's kings for six centuries, has never had a museum reflecting its rich history.

Now that is to change after the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) approved 2.8 million for a 10m Dunfermline Museum and Art Gallery, with exhibition rooms from Robert the Bruce to the linen trade, from agricultural and industrial history to contemporary art shows.

A two-storey gallery and entrance building will link the city's 1883 Carnegie Library - the first of the 2,600 he financed worldwide - to a second historic building, a listed Victorian bank. It will act as an entrance and introduction to other city sites.

Fife Council has committed 6.8m to the project, to be designed by award-winning Edinburgh architect Richard Murphy, with construction expected to start in 2012.

Dorothy Browse, Fife Council's service manager for libraries, arts and museums, said she was delighted that five years' work on the project has finally come to fruition. "It means it's really going ahead," she said.

The city's tourist attractions include Dunfermline Abbey and Palace, home, burial and birthplace of kings from Robert the Bruce to Charles I, but the museum will help it fully exploit its potential as a Fife hub and tourist destination, she said.

"It is an additional attraction in that area. The city has got a significant amount of historic buildings and a really good history with royal connections. Dunfermline is really beginning to work together to make the most of it."

• Carnegie's great library legacy

The library, which draws about 200,000 people a year, and the bank will be redeveloped with a new extension to include galleries, the library, archive, and local history services.

It will host exhibitions of Fife collections and touring art, as well as programmes for schools and residents.

Mr Murphy won an initial design competition for the project in 2007, but the firm has now drawn up new plans to tie in the library and a build on a car park space bought from the neighbouring Abbot House Heritage Centre.

"It's a very interesting project. It's not just a museum," he said. There will be about 200 square metres of gallery space.

"It's very much blurring the distinction between the museum and the library. There is going to be one inquiry desk for everything, there will be rooms with a library function and some with a museum function. That's quite unique."The HLF gave initial approval for the lottery grant, paving the way to the award once full proposals are submitted.

Former Fringe director Paul Gudgin was closely involved in efforts to reopen the historic Alhambra Theatre as a major Dunfermline venue two years ago. The new project "can only be good news" as a new daytime hub for the city, he said.

 
 
 

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