Assistant conservator Margot Murray works on a mummy mask (Photo: Stewart Attwood)
Assistant conservator Margot Murray works on a mummy mask (Photo: Stewart Attwood)

100 days to go until museum galleries open

Today marks 100 days to go until the opening of three new permanent galleries at the National Museum of Scotland: Ancient Egypt Rediscovered, Exploring East Asia and the Art of Ceramics.

The opening of the galleries on Friday, 8 February 2019, sees the completion, on time and on budget, of the 15-year, £80 million transformation of the Museum, restoring the much-loved Victorian building and revealing more of its treasures.

With just 100 days until the new galleries are revealed, National Museums Scotland staff are busy preparing over 1,500 objects for display.

From historic paper and textiles to armour and ceramics, a team of conservators is working to ensure that the remarkable objects – 40 per cent of which will go on show for the first time in at least a generation – are ready for display. Meanwhile, new research is being carried out to unlock some of the stories behind the collections.

Gordon Rintoul, director of National Museums Scotland said: ‘I am delighted that our 15-year transformation of the National Museum of Scotland is nearly complete. Accompanied by a nationwide programme of activity, these three new galleries will present our Ancient Egypt, East Asia and ceramics collections in compelling and inspiring ways.

Assistant conservator Margot Murray works on a mummy mask (Photo: Stewart Attwood)

‘Their opening marks the last step in an ambitious journey which has seen our visitor numbers more than treble, putting the Museum on the international map and making it the most visited attraction in the UK outside London.’

This £3.6m project has been made possible thanks to support from The National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Wolfson Foundation, the Sir James Miller Edinburgh Trust and a generous community of Trusts and individual donors.

National Museums is now in the final stages of a public fundraising campaign and with the generosity of its visitors and supporters is confident that it will raise the £125,000 required to complete the National Museum’s transformation.
The opening of the new galleries is supported by a national programme of activity to extend their reach and impact to partner museums across Scotland, by sharing collections, knowledge and expertise.

Assistant conservator Emma Davey and Chinese painting C19, Guangzhou (Photo: Stuart Attwood)

Ancient Egypt Rediscovered covers 3,000 years of history, highlighting the stories of individuals to engage visitors with this remarkable civilisation. Objects on display include the only intact royal burial group outside of Egypt, the only double coffin ever discovered in Egypt and a cosmetics box which is one of the finest examples of decorative woodwork to survive from ancient Egypt. The gallery will also chart the remarkable contribution made by Scots to the development of Egyptology.

Exploring East Asia will celebrate the dynamic cultures of China, Japan and Korea, showcasing their diverse traditions, peoples and histories. National Museums Scotland’s East Asia collections are among the most important in the UK and represent over 150 years of continuous collecting. The gallery will highlight the range of exquisite art and craftsmanship from the region with objects such as a headdress from 18th-century China, made from kingfisher feathers, Japanese woodblock prints and remarkable sets of armour.

Art of Ceramics unites themes from across National Museums Scotland’s collections. Ceramics are an extraordinarily versatile medium in art and science and the gallery celebrates the creativity and diversity reflected in ceramic pieces from across the world and across a broad time period, from the 11th to 21st centuries. It explores some of the less familiar aspects of the story of ceramics, such as their importance in international trade and use in scientific and technological applications from 19th-century false teeth to heat-protective coatings for rockets or high-tech brakes in motorsport.