Thanks a million - museum appeal smashes £13m target

A MULTI-million-pound campaign to help refurbish one of Scotland's best-known cultural attractions has smashed its fundraising target.

A string of major donations for the overhaul of the Victorian-era Royal Museum building, in Edinburgh, has seen a public appeal reach 13.6 million - 1m more than the official target.

Around 3m is thought to have been raised in the last year alone, since reclusive tycoon Dr Walter Scott came forward with a donation of 1m to help transform "one of the jewels in Scotland's architectural crown".

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

More than 1000 donations were made in total over the last seven years.

National Museums Scotland had already secured 17.8m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and 16m from the Scottish Government for the project, due to be unveiled at the end of July.

The success of its campaign contrasts sharply with the National Galleries of Scotland, which secured a 2m bail-out from the Scottish Government in March to ensure its 17.6m overhaul of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery could be completed this year after a 7.5m fundraising campaign fell way short.

Fundraising for the Royal Museum project had begun back in 2004, when an initial bid was made to the HLF, with the Scottish Government confirming its support three years later.

Other major funders included Adele Stewart, a spinster who bequeathed 2m to the museum following a lifetime of visits there, and grants of more than 1m each from two philanthropic funds - the Wolfson Trust and the Moffat Charitable Trust.

Sir Angus Grossart, chairman of NMS's board of trustees, said: "I am proud of our tremendous achievement to have not only met, but to have exceeded, our fundraising target, which is delivering the biggest transformation in our history.

"The overall ambition of the project and the quality of our aspirations to unlock the stories of our remarkable collections has captured the imagination and commitment of many supporters to whom we are profoundly grateful.

"Their generosity has been outstanding and will create a landmark destination, which will inspire, as well as inform, visitors and future generations."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Some 16 new galleries will be created, including a major new space for international touring exhibitions, a new arrivals hall and street entrances, glass lifts, and a flagship restaurant.

About 50 per cent more public space has been created by knocking through old walls and freeing up storage space. Work on the project began more than three years ago.The new-look attraction - along with the award-winning extension to the Royal Museum which was added in 1998 - will be known simply as the National Museum of Scotland.

Officials say the extra 1m will be ringfenced for the new-look building, to go into securing new equipment, better audio-visual facilities, and upgrading the standard of many displays.

Leading corporate lawyer Bruce Minto, who led the museum's fundraising campaign, added: "I am all too conscious that the project has been in progress through difficult economic circumstances and so we are all even more grateful for the terrific interest we have had from the outset."