National Museum of Scotland set to become a primate attraction

One of the displays at the National Museum. Picture: comp
One of the displays at the National Museum. Picture: comp
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THE secrets of monkeys, apes and gorillas, the story of how fossils millions of years old were discovered in Scotland, a celebration of Lego and rarely seen treasures charting the 2500-year evolution of the Celts will take centre stage at the National Museum of Scotland in 2016 to mark its 150th anniversary.

The nation’s most popular visitor attraction has unveiled the line-up for its landmark year, which will also see the opening of 10 new galleries showcasing more than 3000 science technology, decorative art, fashion and design exhibits.

2016 is a significant year for us – it is fitting that new displays will be unveiled”

DR GORDON RINTOUL

More than 50 new taxidermy specimens are being created at the Edinburgh attraction for its primates exhibition, which will also feature displays of skeletons, film footage, models and photography.

The Monkey Business show, due to open for next Christmas, will explore how different primates move and communicate, the tools they have developed to get hold of food and their “complex social systems,” as well as their relationship with humans.The Fossil Hunters exhibition, which opens in February, will showcase an “international important” collection of fossils dating from 340-360 million years ago and use the latest scientific research to shed new light on their creation.

A vast recreation of the Victorian-era Royal Museum building will be assembled using Lego in its grand gallery by Edinburgh-based artist Warren Elsmore, who will also be displaying some of the models he has made out of the toy bricks. Visitors during the half-term holidays will be able to help create a model of one of the best-known objects in its collection.

The first major exhibition to examine the history of Celtic art and identity, to open in March, has been created in partnership with the British Museum.

Highlights of The Celts – the exhibits for which are drawn from 16 institutions across the UK and 10 international 
lenders – include intricately manuscripts, objects of 
religious devotion and decorative art.

Previously closed-off and little-used parts of the museum are being transformed into the new £14.1m galleries, due to open next summer. Around 40 per cent more floor space has been created for collections rarely seen during the museum’s previous 150 years, as well as a host of new star exhibits.

Highlights include outfits created by fashion gurus like Vivienne Westwood, Jean Muir and Zandra Rhodes, work designed by celebrated Glasgow architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh and long-time Edinburgh painter Anna Phoebe Traquair, a glass sculpture created by Pablo Picasso, and Dolly the Sheep, the world’s first cloned mammal.

The new galleries are the latest phase of a masterplan which saw the launch of 16 new galleries, a makeover for the grand gallery and the creation of a spectacular new entrance hall in 2011. The £47m project was credited with helping the NMS become the most popular visitor attraction in the UK outside London.

Museum director Dr Gordon Rintoul said: “2016 is a hugely significant year for us. It is especially fitting that dramatic new displays of our collections of science and technology, decorative art, design and fashion will be unveiled during the Year of Architecture, Innovation and Design.”