National Museum of Scotland reborn

Since it reopened last Summer, the National Museum of Scotland has been the most popular UK attraction outside of London according to new figures. Its £47 million refurbishment has boosted visitor numbers by 141%, one of the largest boosts in visitors for UK attractions according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.

Bernard Donoghue, director of the ALVA claims this is due to brave decision-making.

“The Scottish government, local authorities, the Scottish Lottery Heritage Fund and the attractions themselves have had the courage to invest in a difficult economic climate but their investment has been entirely justified.”

Other Scottish attractions have had more visitors over the last year, such as Stirling Castle, Urquhart Castle and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Director of the National Museums of Scotland, Dr Gordon Rintoul, claims that they have created a “truly world-class visitor attraction” which will bring “huge benefits to the country’s tourism economy”.

Iron Age gold hoard to finally be on display at The National Museum of Scotland

by Emily Glass

National Museums Scotland have finally secured a set of four Iron Age gold neck ornaments after raising funds for two years.

The treasure was found by David Booth  in 2009 in his first outing with his metal detector whilst at work. Chief Game Warden at Blair Drummond Safari Park, near Stirling, Booth unearthed the trove which was lying a mere six inches below the surface of a field.

The neck ornaments, or torcs, date between the 1st and 3rd Century BC and will be on display in the National Collections at The National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street.

Mr Booth will receive a reward payment of £462,000 which was set-up by the Queen’s and Lord Treasure’s Remembrancer after he reported his remarkable find to the Treasure Trove Unit.

The treasure has been cited by Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop as being the most important Iron Age find in Scotland’s history. She described the importance of the hoard’s display in The National Museum of Scotland: “I congratulate the National Museum of Scotland on its successful fundraising campaign to ensure that it remains here and will be on free display for the general public.”

National Museum of Scotland set to bring in £58.1m

The renovation hopes to bring more revenue for the city. Photo: Flickr user Chris Malcolm

A report has revealed that an Edinburgh attraction is expected to bring £58.1m a year to the Scottish economy after a multi-million pound refurbishment.

The National Museum of Scotland is currently undergoing a £46m renovation which involves new facilities being built and more space created. Bosses claim that the revamp will increase its scope for business with confirmation of bookings for gala dinners, conferences and major exhibitions running until 2014.

The official study was commissioned by National Museums Scotland and compiled by independent consultants Biggar Economics. The report was based on visitor numbers, its business potential as a conference, an events space and a centre for unique learning experiences for schools and families.

The establishment was valued at £48.8m to the economy before it was partially closed in Spring 2008 for refurbishment.  It is anticipated that the £10m increase in revenue is based on a boost of spin-off benefits with other attractions, hotels and restaurants and a rise in visitors when it re-opens.  The number of visitors are predicted to increase from 800,000 a year to 1.1m.

Lan Pham, a spokesman for Biggar Economics claimed the figure was ‘not definite but more of an approximation to capture the value’.  She said, “It’s about seeing the roles the National Museum Scotland plays in attracting visitors and if they’re happy with the attraction.”

It is expected to generate the equivalent of 2,611 jobs in its first year and that the National Museums Scotland will contribute nearly £3 to the Scottish Economy for every £1 invested by the Scottish Government.

Dr Gordon Rintoul, Director of National Museums Scotland said: This Report underlines the significant economic benefit that the re-developed National Museum of Scotland will bring to Edinburgh and Scotland when it opens next summer.

“It shows the real financial contribution that we make to Scotland’s economy, both through the visitors we attract and the projects, business and employment that we support through our activities. Our Museums and collections are a key social, cultural and educational asset for our nation, and this report confirms our place as one of the key contributors to the competitiveness of Edinburgh and Scotland’s unique tourism offer.”

Its planned official opening will be in July next year.

Jean Muir: A Fashion Icon

The National Museum of Scotland will exhibit a large collection of late British fashion designer Jean Muir’s work from Friday 7 November.

Jean Muir photographed by Gemma Levine

Jean Muir photographed by Gemma Levine

Jean Muir (1928-1995) was an internationally acclaimed dressmaker who founded the label Jean Muir Ltd with her husband Harry Leuckert in 1966. The upcoming exhibition aims to celebrate the life and work of the designer and will showcase selected highlights from her works on display to the public for the first time. Included in the show are garments, sketches, patterns, accessories, catwalk footage and fashion photography.

Harry Leuckert, Muir’s widower, donated in April 2005 the Jean Muir collection of over 18 000 items to the National Museum of Scotland. It is believed to be the largest archive of a fashion designer in any museum. “Both of Jeans grandparents came from Scotland and she was tremendously proud of her Scottish roots. She loved the country, its landscapes and its people and used a great number of Scottish craftspeople in her work throughout her career”, said Leuckert after the donation. 

Jean Muir was known in Paris as “the new queen of the dress” and in New York as “the jewel in the crown of British fashion”. Although Muir had no formal training from any art school, she managed to work her way up through the fashion industry and then onto establishing her own label, Jean Muir Ltd, in 1966. She was known for her strict attention to details, her classic and simple shapes and her use of black and navy. In Muir’s own words, she claimed to be “evolutionary, not revolutionary”, and her clothes have been celebrated by women such as Lauren Bacall, Barbra Streisand and Judi Dench.

The entire collection represents an outstanding educational resource as it sets out the making of a fashion house as well as numerous collections, ranging from the very first sketches drawn by Muir until the clothes actually appeared on a runway.  Consequently, it has taken the museum three years to catalogue, document and conserve all of the 18 000 items, of which only 30 finished garments will be displayed. “The exhibition has been crafted to follow Muir’s training, her early career and her resultant status as the figurehead of one of Britain’s best-loved and respected fashion labels, providing an inspiration to all”, says Barbara Lyon, a spokesperson at the National Museum of Scotland. 

There will also be a programme of events for those who wish to gain deeper and perhaps more practical knowledge on the subject of fashion and designing. The program will commence in November with lectures and workshops scheduled.

The exhibition will run from Fri 7 Nov 2008 – Sun 15 March 2009, it is free and located in the National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh. For more information please visit www.nms.ac.uk.

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