Be front row for the Edinburgh alphabet at the festival of museums

From the cobbles to the catwalk, this season’s most coveted collection will be shown at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh. 

The gallery’s major summer exhibition, ‘Edinburgh Alphabet: An A-Z of the City’s Collections, will spell out 60,000 years of the Capital over 300 artworks and objects when doors open this Friday (19 May).

The alphabetic display has sparked the imaginations of fashion designers, artists, singers and story-tellers leading a weekend of events to mark the Festival of Museums.

Proving ‘F stands for Fashion’ in Edinburgh, the line-up features a free fashion show staged by Textile Diploma students from Edinburgh College. Showcasing garments designed in response to costumes and clothing worn by Edinburgh citizens of the past, ‘Dressed in the A-Z: Fashion Show’ is part of the students’ final major project. Admission free, 20 May at 2pm & 21 May at 2pm.

Lynne Halfpenny, Director of Culture for the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “It is fantastic to see Edinburgh’s history and collections inspire such creativity. This year’s Festival of Museums provides the perfect platform to celebrate the exhibitions and events we have on offer and to open our new Edinburgh Alphabet display. The City Art Centre show will see hundreds of objects as varied as the events, people and stories which have shaped this city displayed under one roof. Don’t miss it.”





Other opening weekend highlights at the City Art Centre include ceilidh dancing, cartoon-making and a takeover by choir singers.

For the first time in the building’s 115-year history, the venue will be turned into a dancehall with visitors invited to join The Jacobites band as they host a lively Edinburgh Street Ceilidh. Free admission, 21 May 11am – 2pm. 

After donning your dancing shoes, relax with a story from Jan Bee Brown who brings her distinctive Creel O’ Stories to the gallery. Celebrating Edinburgh’s historic ports and the exhibition’s display of lobster pots and outfits worn by the fishwives of Newhaven, the storytelling event is free. 21 May, drop in between 1-4pm.

If you prefer a sing-song over a story, the Newhaven Community Choir will be performing in the gallery. They will be followed by the Edinburgh Gay Men’s Chorus and their repertoire of popular music from the last 100 yearsNewhaven Choir, admission free, 20 May 3.15pm. Gay Men’s Chorus, admission free, 21 May 3:15pm.

Inspired by drawings and paintings in the exhibition, artists will be in residence throughout the weekend offering activities for younger ones. Little children can ask for a caricature of their favourite teddy to be drawn by Broons and Oor Wullie artist Stephen White, or older ones can animate their own creations. Your Teddy Takes a Walk around Edinburgh, 20 May 10:30am, no age restriction. Make Your Drawings Move 20 May at 10:30am, attempt ‘old school’ animation at Illusion of Life 20 May at 1.30pm or try Large Scale Animation 21 May at 1.30pm. For children aged 8+.

If Saturday visitors are hungry for more, they can travel back to Edwardian Edinburgh at a traditional afternoon tea on Saturday. Tickets to An Edwardian Affair with costumed performers are £5 per person, 20 May 3:30pm.