£1m lottery funding for new National Museum of Scotland galleries

National Museum of Scotland. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
National Museum of Scotland. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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The final stage of an £80 million masterplan to transform the Victorian-era National Museum of Scotland has been granted more than £1 million of lottery funding. The grant will go towards a £3.3 million project to create two new galleries displaying National Museums Scotland’s collections of Ancient Egyptian and East Asian material, together with a programme of activities across Scotland.

The new galleries, due to open in early 2019, will showcase more than 1200 objects, 40% of which have not been on display in more than a generation.

It is the fourth and final stage of the project to improve the Edinburgh museum, which reopened to the public last summer after the third phase was completed, creating ten new galleries of science and technology, decorative art, fashion and design.

Confirmation of the £1,071,900 National Lottery grant means that £2.3 million of funding is now in place for the project.

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A campaign is under way to secure the final £1 million from private sources.

Dr Gordon Rintoul, director of National Museums Scotland (NMS), said: “We are delighted that The National Lottery has confirmed this funding which will help enable us to complete our ambitious 15-year masterplan to redevelop the Victorian National Museum of Scotland.

“In addition to creating two new galleries to showcase our world-class collections of Ancient Egyptian and East Asian material, we will also develop an extensive National Programme, extending the reach and the impact of these collections across Scotland.”

The museum welcomes 1.8 million visitors a year, making it the most visited museum outside London.

The Ancient Egypt Rediscovered gallery will present the culture and achievements of the ancient Egyptians, highlighting individual stories to give a sense of their values and personal lives.

NMS said the Exploring East Asia gallery will present a “unique perspective” on the region, enabling visitors to explore and contrast the diverse traditions, peoples and histories of China, Japan, and Korea.

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Items on display in the new galleries will include a gold ring which belonged to Queen Nefertiti, a double coffin of two half-brothers - Petamun and Penhorpabik - and the Qurna burial, the only intact royal burial group outside of Egypt.

Also on display will be a Chinese lacquerware rice measure from the Ming dynasty and a Japanese woodblock print of the celebrated Kabuki actor, Ichikawa Ebizo V.

Lucy Casot, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in Scotland, said: “As the most visited attraction in Scotland, the National Museum is of paramount importance to the country’s tourist economy.

“HLF is extremely proud to have been a partner since the museum began its remarkable transformation and delighted that, thanks to players of the National Lottery, we are supporting this last piece of the jigsaw.

“This grand museum is a modern, engaging and fascinating place to visit and the redevelopment of these final two galleries will undoubtedly attract even more visitors to marvel at Scotland’s national collection.”