The National Museum of Scotland has its public opening ceremony tomorrow (29 July), following a £47.4 million transformation which has created one of the world’s great museums, presenting the sciences, humanities and culture, all under one roof.
National Museums Scotland has completed a highly ambitious redevelopment returning a listed Victorian building to its original glory, creating spectacular new public spaces and revealing the wonderful collections.
The centre piece of a 15-year Masterplan, the project has taken just over three years to complete with fundraising efforts exceeding target by almost £1 million.
Sixteen new galleries take visitors on an inspirational journey through the wonders of nature, the cultures of the world and the excitement of science and discovery.
Over 8,000 objects have been selected for the new galleries, 80% of which go on display for the first time in generations. Pioneering Scots who revolutionised the modern world are introduced through their innovations, inventions and possessions, including John Logie Baird, Sir Alexander Fleming and the chemist Joseph Black.
World travelling Scots brought back collections from all over the known and not so well known world. Which added to the knowledge and experience of the resident Scots of the late19th and early 20th and probably also added to the contributions that this small country made to the world as a whole.
The planning and the creation of not just the displays but the new way of looking at these displays must have taken many years to develop,and is indeed innovatory when it comes to the visitor and their relationship to the objects on display.
Sir Angus Grossart, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, National Museums Scotland said: “The reopening of the National Museum of Scotland, on time and within budget is a tremendous achievement as importantly it allows us to liberate the strengths of our great collections and mobilise their great potential for dynamic development.
“Our collections tell great stories about the world, how Scots saw that world, and the disproportionate impact they had upon it. The intellectual and collecting impact of the Scottish diaspora has been profound. It is an inspiring story which has captured the imagination of our many supporters who have helped us achieve our aspirations and to whom we are profoundly grateful.”
National Museums Scotland has also restored remarkable Victorian architecture, created sixteen new galleries, a major gallery to host international exhibitions, a three-storey learning centre and a spectacular new street-level stone-vaulted entrance hall.
Glass elevators carry visitors from the entrance hall to the stunning Grand Gallery, a light-filled space housing the UK’s single largest museum installation,the Window on the World: a four-storey, 18-metre high display of over 800 objects.
Dr Gordon Rintoul, Director, National Museums Scotland said: “This is a proud moment in the history of a great museum – the climax of a once-in-a-lifetime transformation through which we have rediscovered our exceptional collections, and breathed new life into a beautiful building. The result is a new National Museum of Scotland – a place where the cultures of Scotland and the world meet, and the arts and sciences connect. We look forward to sharing the results with our visitors now and those of many generations to come.”
The transformation project is the centrepiece of an ambitious £70 million Masterplan launched in 2004 to redevelop the museum complex. Further phased development will deliver 11 more galleries and complete the overall vision by 2020.