Scary Mary

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Your columnist Tiffany Jenkins once again raises interesting issues (“Respecting jewels in our heritage crown”, Perspective, 2 July) about the ways that museums and galleries, particularly the national ones, now interact with the public, quite often suggesting that “dumbing down” is the order of the day.

In the current Mary, Queen of Scots exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland she senses a lack of faith in the power of historical objects (for example, the Penicuik jewels) to evoke a profound sense of engagement with the past.

Sadly, such a view is given a great deal of credence by the publicity given to the three- dimensional image of Mary “re-created” for the exhibition.

The value of such objects really has to be questioned.

We already have a pretty clear impression of what Mary looked like (virtually all of the genuine portraits of the queen were shown at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in 1987) and she didn’t look like this.

Even if it had looked like her, it has to be asked what such a fabrication adds to the knowledge and understanding of a distant past.

Perhaps the curators of the exhibition, rather than the ­publicity department, might care to enlighten us.

(Dr) Duncan Thomson

Eglinton Crescent

Edinburgh

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