National Museums Scotland
What have been the challenges of going from being a museum with over 2.2 million visitors in 2019, to having to close for months on end due to Covid-19 restrictions?
We are committed to providing access to the incredible national collections through public display across our museums, so it has been both strange and sad to have had to close our doors for so long. On a practical level, it has meant a significant loss of income and challenges in looking after our collections in a way that is as safe as possible for our staff.We have had to reschedule exhibitions, events, exciting behind the scenes research and conservation work that had been going on as well as all the other issues common to workplaces across the country.
Are there any elements of your online provision due to the pandemic that you might incorporate into your plans in the months and years ahead? Absolutely and, if there is a positive flipside to any of this, it is the new ways in which we’ve been able to engage with people over lockdown, including those who would not be able to visit us here in Edinburgh even in normal times. So we will be continuing to put more of our collections online and developing new resources and content. We are looking at our programming so that, even when we’re back in the building, there will be elements of our events and exhibitions which will be available for people to engage with from home.
What can visitors look forward to once you’re able to welcome people to the museum in the coming months?
First and foremost, just being able to get back into our museums to revisit and reconnect with favourite objects, galleries and spaces is something that I think everyone, including myself, is greatly looking forward to. Timings are yet to be confirmed as we await guidance from the Scottish Government as to when we might reopen, but our intention is to open the delayed exhibition, Galloway Hoard:Vikingage Treasure, as soon as we can after the main reopening. History Scotland readers can learn [on page 5] in much more depth about what we’ve been discovering about this extraordinary assemblage of Viking-age treasure, and the exhibition will provide a real insight into the work in progress of understanding what it has to tell us.
We’ll also have a fascinating slice of social history in the form of The Typewriter Revolution, from among the earliest prototypes to models familiar from homes and workplaces all over the world in the 1970s and ‘80s. We’ll be joining in the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Sir Walter Scott in August with a display exploring his own antiquarian interests and how historical artefacts in what would later become our Scottish History and Archaeology collection inspired elements of his work.
Just being able to get back into our museums to revisit and reconnect with favourite objects, galleries and spaces is something that I think everyone, including myself, is greatly looking forward to