To the excellent obituary and appreciation of Professor Charles McKean (1 October), I (as trustee of the National Museums of Scotland when the Museum of Scotland was being created) would add that he also researched and wrote The Making of the Museum of Scotland.
His book combines academic rigour in exploring the archives with his trademark enthusiasm, style and wit to explain the origin, aspirations and struggles that eventually made the new building an expression of historic, national identity far beyond a mere collection of antiquities.
He describes how it developed into a thematic museum intended to convey the story of a whole nation. Presciently, he concluded his introduction by writing that “the Museum of Scotland, its displays and its architecture, will soon be taken for granted, as though it had always been there.
“Occasional questions might be asked: ‘What took it so long, why does it look like that, and what was the fuss about?’
“That is what this book hopes to eliminate.”
Indeed it does, and the people of Scotland are greatly in debt to him explaining so clearly and cogently how and why the building and its content should never be taken for granted.
Ronnie Cramond CBE