Leader: Museum revamp breathes new life into our heritage

MUSEUMS should engage, fascinate and excite. Long gone are the days when museums were simply comprised of room after room of glass-topped trays of prehistoric bones.

The National Museum of Scotland has long prided itself on its imaginative settings. Now 16 new galleries with 44 new exhibits, including a wide range of animals swimming, flying, floating and gliding in the new "Natural World" galleries, unite innovation with a deep respect for the building's wonderful Victorian glory.

This is no silent parade of lifeless artefacts. Particular care has been taken to match the animals in settings that reflect as accurately as possible their natural habitat.

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A central theme of the 46 million overhaul and facelift is the power of Scotland's intellectual diaspora and the impact of Scots explorers and pioneers across the globe. It sets out to tell the stories of these remarkable collections with style and verve.

An equal measure of verve has gone into the fund-raising for this project, with fund-raising targets set against a most difficult background. It secured 17.8m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and 16m from the Scottish Government. Had this work been delayed into next year, the financing targets may well have ended up as one of the artefacts.