National treasures set to leave Edinburgh and go on tour around the country

A host of Scotland's most important historic artefacts and precious treasures are to be sent around the country as part of a new drive to ensure they are seen by far more people in future.

National Museums Scotland director Dr Gordon Rintoul and Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop examine an early medieval silver chain from Torvean, near Inverness.

Major new touring exhibitions and loans of high-profile objects are expected to be lined up as part of a new strategy instigated by the Scottish Government.

It wants to open significantly open up access to the national collections which are kept in Edinburgh and have traditionally largely only been on display in the capital.

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The National Museum of Scotland agreed to take more of the 12 million objects it is responsible for “beyond the walls” of its own buildings. Its collections include objects, specimens and artefacts from the worlds of art, fashion, design, science, technology, the natural world, archaeology and world cultures.

The initiative, which will include “a strategic programme of loans,” is expected to boost the fortunes of museums and visitor attractions around the country by enhancing their own permanent collections.

The new national strategy will also “prioritise projects which deliver the greatest benefits to people and places across the country” and ensure greater online access to the museum archives, which are held at a large collections centre on Edinburgh’s waterfront.

Dr Gordon Rintoul, director of the National Museums Scotland, which is responsible for the national collection, said: “We will build upon an already strong track record of sharing the riches of the national collections beyond our walls and supporting the museum sector across the length and breadth of Scotland.

“We will collaborate with many organisations and communities across the country, sharing skills and expertise to ensure the impact of our collections and programmes is felt as widely as possible.”

Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “National Museums Scotland can only be truly national if it helps and leads museum activity right across Scotland and this new Strategy will help drive that forward.

“The new touring opportunities which will see the sharing of national treasures at museums across Scotland will help inspire visitors and is a step-change in the role of National Museums Scotland as a national institution.”