July 29, 2011 / 11:21 AM / in 6 years

Renovation restores Victorian glory to Scottish museum

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - The National Museum of Scotland reopened to the public on Friday after a 47-million-pound renovation that has restored its Victorian glory while giving it a spectacular boost into the 21st century.

Before the three-year makeover -- completed on time and under budget -- “the building was looking a bit tired and a little bit sad,” said museum director Gordon Rintoul. “Now it’s an entirely new museum.”

The central hall is in itself an eye-catching exhibit, soaring three storeys to a glass roof supported by the original iron columns which were at the cutting edge of technology when the museum first opened in 1866.

Around 8,000 objects are on show, of which 80 percent have been tucked away in dingy storage spaces and not seen for generations.

“We just assembled objects because they were surprising, or beautiful, or thought-provoking,” said science and technology curator Alex Hayward.

These include the first coloured television set, the jaws of two giant sperm whales on which 19th century seamen carved depictions of whale hunting, a great white whale hovering just above a full-scale replica of a T-Rex dinosaur, delicate chinaware, and Victorian working models of machine in “a cabinet of curiosities”.

The main hall includes a boat-sized wooden feastbowl for some 300 people brought to Scotland by a Pacific Cook Islands princess who married a Scot.

Rintoul said the spirit of Scotland runs through the exhibits.

“It really emanates from that great tradition of adventurers, or entrepreneurs, or Scots in the world as colonial administrators or missionaries or engineers and bringing things back -- in many ways you’ve got the story of Scots’ engagement with the rest of the world.”

More renovations will be undertaken in a continuing project due for completion by 2020.

Editing by Steve Addison

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