Lost treasures on display

Wheely inspired...the museums Kirsten Cowie with historic bicycle display. Stewart Attwood.

Wheely inspired...the museums Kirsten Cowie with historic bicycle display. Stewart Attwood.

Scores of forgotten treasures, which have been hidden away for generations, are now on public display at one of Scotland’s leading museums.

Hundreds of artefacts have been taken out of storage and dusted off for the special showcase at the National Museum of Scotland to mark its 150th anniversary year.

Light dusting...Science curator Tacye Phillipson with a copper cavity from CERN. Pic: Stewart Attwood

Light dusting...Science curator Tacye Phillipson with a copper cavity from CERN. Pic: Stewart Attwood

They include one of the world’s oldest railway locomotives, an early John Logie Baird television set, a spectacular squadron of iconic aircraft, clothing and accessories from the 17th century, a 1.6 metre long model of the new Queensferry Crossing and the science of genetics with Dolly the Sheep.

The ten new state-of-the-art galleries opened on July 8 following a £14.1 million redevelopment.

It is the latest phase in an £80 million masterplan to transform the museum and show the breadth of its world-class collections.

Created in collaboration with award-winning Hoskins Architects and exhibition specialists Metaphor, the galleries encourage visitors to take a journey of discovery.

The redevelopment of the Grade A listed Victorian building has restored the museum’s original layout.

More than 3000 objects are now on display – three-quarters of which have not been shown for at least a generation.

Gordon Rintoul, National Museums Scotland director, said: “It is fitting that in this, our 150th anniversary year, we unveil the latest phase in the museum’s transformation.

“These ten new galleries aim to excite and engage our visitors, both today and for generations to come.

“I look forward to welcoming people to the galleries and hope they will be inspired by our exceptional collections.”

Visitors will be able to experience the collections like never before, with in-depth information provided through a network of digital labels, audio visual programmes, a wide range of interactive exhibits and original working machines.

A suite of six new science and technology galleries – the UK’s most comprehensive outside London – establishes the museum as a key centre for science engagement.

The galleries feature objects covering more than 250 years of innovation, in areas as diverse as engineering, medicine, transport, communication, physics and chemistry.

Highlights include one of the two oldest railway locomotives in the world; a two-tonne Copper Cavity from CERN’s large electron positron collider; three Formula 1 racing cars; an Apple-1, one of the world’s first personal home computers; the world’s first pneumatic tyre, developed in Scotland by John Boyd Dunlop; Britain’s oldest motorcycle; and ground-breaking initiatives like the world’s first bionic arm and a mouse kidney grown from stem cells.

Funding from Wellcome has enabled a new focus on biomedical science. Topics covered include the science of genetics, the development of new pharmaceuticals and advances in prosthetics and body implants.

Other key objects include medals awarded to Sir Alexander Fleming for the discovery of penicillin, Sir David Jack for developing asthma inhalers and Sir James Black for the first successful beta-blocker.

Meanwhile, a dramatic atrium showcases a squadron of aircraft, including Percy Pilcher’s Hawk, the earliest British aircraft and a 1940 Tiger Moth biplane.

Children and adults can enjoy hands-on activities, including newly restored 19th century working engineering models; a Formula 1 racing car simulator; working hot-air balloons; and a human-sized hamster wheel which visitors can drive to generate electricity (main picture).

Treasures in the four new art, design and fashion galleries also showcase creativity and innovation – from precious mediaeval gothic treasures to the work of today’s leading names.

Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for culture, said: “The National Museum of Scotland is undoubtedly one of the jewels in Scotland’s cultural crown, welcoming over 8.5 million visitors since its reopening in 2011.

“For the past five years, it has been the most visited museum outside of London.

“The Scottish Government has contributed £900,000 to the project, to help bring these magnificent collections to life.”