Festivals of Museums seek legion of visitors to join in

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Think you know museums? Think again! Forget all the cliches of dusty glass cases and think whisky tasting, dancing and cocktails, not to mention meeting Romans, Vikings, Victorians and maybe even a few pirates!

Because all this and more is on offer in Scotland during the Festival of Museums, a three-day event which celebrates the variety and excellence of our museums.

Now in its 11th year, the annual celebration of the magic of heritage, science and history, runs from Friday, May 19, to Sunday, May 21.

Its aim is to get people into museums, so the packed programme hopes to spark imaginations and inspire visitors to find out more about their heritage.

This year it’s bigger than ever before, with 25 per cent more events being held compared to last year.

Joanne Orr, chief executive Museums Galleries Scotland, said: “We host the festival each year to give museums and galleries, big and small alike, the opportunity to do something special – to showcase their collections in unique and creative ways.

“This year is no exception. The action-packed weekend will give visitors an opportunity to celebrate culture, discover history and learn something new, as well as have some fun!

“We want to ignite imaginations and encourage people to explore Scotland’s incredible museums and galleries.”

During the weekend-long celebrations, venues will welcome visitors with creative and hands-on activities, while throwing a spotlight on the wealth of culture in Fife’s best-loved attractions.

There will be something for everyone, from little ones to big kids, both day and night, including treasure trails, art workshops, gaming events, childhood workshops and even a Victorian fayre.

Joanne said: “This year’s Festival of Museums is bigger, bolder and more exciting than ever.”

If you’re in and around St Andrews or the East Neuk of Fife, expect to see a Victorian Fayre, with childhood games and an exclusive megagame.

Created by designer Oz Mills, the megagame will be played out against the backdrop of the Fisheries Museum’s Zulu gallery.

Players are invited to turn coastal towns into economic powerhouses.

Jen Gordon, assistant curator at the Scottish Fisheries Museum, said: “Every year we accept the Festival of Museums challenge to devise an original and exciting event with which to lure new audiences into our wonderful museum!

“I am thrilled at the prospect of both welcoming the gaming community and working with such a talented and experienced game player/designer to make this idea a reality.”

Highlights in other parts of the region include the official opening of Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries.

You could be among the first through the doors of this new cultural landmark where you can explore the exciting new displays on Fife’s royal history and industrial heritage.

Sara Ann Kelly, local studies officer, said: “For visitors wishing to find out about the local area or study their own family history, we have a really interesting collection of photographs, maps, census records, parish records and free access to the Ancestry database.”

And for wee ones, Kung Fu Pandemonium at The Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum, is a good bet. This fantastic workshop for youngsters will see them learning how to roar and dance like a Chinese lion!

For further details on the 130 or so events taking place this weekend as part of the festival, visit www.festivalofmuseums.co.uk/events.