Scotland: A Changing Nation, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh tells the story of Scotland to the world and, in its international collections, shows the world to Scotland.
Its new permanent exhibition, Scotland: A Changing Nation, which opened in July 2008, is a thought-provoking gallery about Scotland's recent past, its present and future. It explores a changing nation through the lives of ordinary and extraordinary Scots from the First World War to the present day.
The gallery uses five major themes: war, industry, daily life, social change and emigration as well as Scottish achievement in sport, culture, medicine, science and technology. It reflects social problems such as the effect of poverty on health and also takes an objective look at the ‘hot topic’ of Scottish nationalism. It considers how specific local and global changes have impacted on Scotland, enforcing, shaping or changing age old traditions, attitudes and values.
Objects on show range from the mundane to the magnificent; items from everyday life such as household bric à brac and tourist souvenirs sit alongside works of art and a dazzling, newly-acquired silicon ingot. Film, TV, photography, cartoons and newsprint are used throughout the gallery, alongside poetry and art pieces which add an extra layer of interpretation as well as providing a sense of Scottish identity through voice – speech, use of language, dialect – and to illustrate the sense of humour and creativity in music, poetry and literature.
The aspirations of the exhibition drove a major collecting effort of more than just objects: the Museum wanted to tell stories of personal experience and found people very willing to engage with this. The result is the inclusion of over thirty 'personal stories' distributed through the gallery and helping to bring it to life. They include the 'Piper of Loos,' the Victoria Cross winner Daniel Laidlaw; the founder of the Labour party, Keir Hardie; oil and gas engineer, Alan Longmuir and the singer- songwriter, Amy Macdonald. One Nation, Five Million Voices, a specially commissioned film, presents a cross-section of people giving their personal views on what it means to be Scottish.
Some of your comments:
This gallery is fantastic! Something for every generation and the interpretation is varied so there are things to read, things to do and things to hear. As a family we all liked different parts but all learnt something new about our country. It should win!
It brings bang up-to-date a Museum which already contains beautifully presented, historic displays in an award winning, modern building. It shows the carnage of WW One, the decline of once-proud heavy industry (Glasgow was the ‘Workshop of the World’), the sadness of emigration and the squalor of the Gorbals slums. In contrast is the technological miracle of the silicon chip and the resilience of working class people, as shown by women singing in rhythm while ‘waulking’ the tweed, by the popular variety theatre, and by the pounding beat of the Proclaimers' 500 Miles, now the anthem of their local football club. It continues the role of the Museum in presenting the history of a small country that has punched above its weight, but brings the story into the 20th and 21st century to engage a new, young generation of visitors.
Very impressed with the concept of this new gallery - gives a modern vibrancy on Level 6 of the generally traditional National Museum of Scotland. It was an extremely interesting experience to take part in the filming of One Nation, Five Million Voices, a film specially commissioned for the new gallery. Our pupils are now extremely keen to visit the gallery on our next excursion to Edinburgh because they have been involved in the creation of this modern exhibit. The National Museum is not usually one of their choice destinations but they are intrigued to think that they are part of such a massive project and are now persons of historical interest! This is the kind of gallery that brings museums alive for all generations and attracts people to come through the doors. I strongly support the nomination of this gallery!
An engaging and thought provoking gallery, appearing at the perfect moment to tap into national debates about the identity and future of Scotland. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about or revisiting aspects of Scotland's recent past, and had a lot of fun enjoying the TV and film clips. The exhibition perfectly balances grand themes and personal stories, the latter adding fascinating detail. And I can't praise enough the magnificent One Nation film - a hilarious and uncanny summary of Scotland today that I watched more than once. Everyone born, living in or visiting Scotland should see this exhibition and leave with increased understanding of and affection for modern Scotland.
Absolutely brilliant exhibition. Gives a lot of facts about Scotland. I took my 10 year old nephew and 8 year old niece and it helped give them with their knowledge of history and all the wonderful things the Scots created and invented. I thought the video was insightful, amusing and truthful. Will definitely visit this exhibition again.
It really is great to see an exhibition dealing with big issues from an everyman's perspective - this is the story of modern Scotland from the perspective of the people who experienced the changes. I thoroughly recommend it!
This exhibition took the bold step to strive to portray the realities of Scotland as a nation today. As well as acknowledging the great triumphs of a modern and devolved Scotland, ‘a changing nation’ chose to show some of its harsh realities. The far-reaching affects of drug abuse and dependency across the nation is a story that is all too important as its effects blight families across the country from the inner city to the highlands. I am extremely proud to be part of this exhibition and I hope it shows the courage and determination of groups like Transition and Access to industry which helped me out of a situation of addiction. It is organisations such as these that show the true character of our nation.
An engaging and thought provoking gallery, appearing at the perfect moment to tap into national debates about the identity and future of Scotland. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about or revisiting aspects of Scotland's recent past; and had a lot of fun enjoying the TV and film clips. The exhibition perfectly balances grand themes and personal stories, the latter adding fascinating detail. And I can't praise enough the magnificent One Nation film - a hilarious and uncanny summary of Scotland today that I watched more than once. Everyone born, living in or visiting Scotland should see this exhibition and leave with increased understanding of and affection for modern Scotland.