National Museum of Scotland to open vaults for 150th birthday

Assistant textile conservator Kate French installs the Triumph of Prudence tapestry in the Art of Living gallery. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Assistant textile conservator Kate French installs the Triumph of Prudence tapestry in the Art of Living gallery. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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THEY have been the last word in style for hundreds of years.

Historic garments dating back to the 17th century are among a range of precious and internationally significant objects – including the Flemish 16th century Triumph of Prudence tapestry – set for a new lease of life thanks to a major revamp at the National Museum of Scotland.

Costume mounting specialist Cecilia Voss puts the finishing touches to a womans court mantua from 1750-1770. Picture: Neil Hanna

Costume mounting specialist Cecilia Voss puts the finishing touches to a womans court mantua from 1750-1770. Picture: Neil Hanna

Ten galleries are due to open in July as staff at the Victorian landmark in Chambers Street celebrate its 150th anniversary year.

Created in collaboration with award-winning practice Hoskins Architects and exhibition specialists Metaphor, they mark the latest phase of an £80 million masterplan to transform the museum.

There will be a fashion and style gallery featuring the work of celebrated designers such as Jean Muir, Mary Quant, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood, as well as garments made during the 1600s.

Many of the pieces have been newly acquired, while others have undergone conservation in preparation for display after being kept in storage for decades.

Assistant conservator Gemma Thorns works on a Chippendale chair made for Sir Lawrence Dundas in 1765. Picture: Neil Hanna

Assistant conservator Gemma Thorns works on a Chippendale chair made for Sir Lawrence Dundas in 1765. Picture: Neil Hanna

Six new galleries and an atrium space in the West Wing will showcase the museum’s landmark collections dedicated to science and technology. These date back to the 18th century and cover the key innovations of the industrial revolution.

Museum bosses said that more than three-quarters of items would go on show for the first time in at least a generation.

And they have predicted the expansion will allow them to create “the largest, most comprehensive suite of galleries in the UK outside London”.

Display space for the collections will increase by more than 40 per cent, with the redevelopment also completing the restoration of the original Victorian architecture.

Assistant conservator Lydia Messerschmidt works on a 16th century reliquary bust of a bishop, using a second, similar bust as a reference point. Picture: Neil Hanna

Assistant conservator Lydia Messerschmidt works on a 16th century reliquary bust of a bishop, using a second, similar bust as a reference point. Picture: Neil Hanna

Among the 20th and 21st century icons due to go on display are Dolly the Sheep, a key element of the Large Electron Positron Collider from CERN, rare Apple Mark 1 and the world’s first bionic hand.

The museum’s collections of decorative art, fashion and design are considered to be among the most comprehensive and important in Europe.