The city of Edinburgh is steeped in history. Stroll down the medieval closes of the Royal Mile or through the Georgian streets of the New Town and you are walking in the footsteps of some of Scotland’s greatest heroes (and villains). Collecting the material culture of this great city is the responsibility of the city’s museums and galleries service and this year, for the first time, visitors have the chance to sample the huge assortment of collections that form Museums and Galleries Edinburgh.
The service manages a range of venues across the city. Many of the collections are now ‘recognized’ by the Scottish Government as being of national and international importance. They vary from paintings, sculpture, tapestries, ceramics, silver and glass in the fine and applied art collections, to bronze age axe heads and medieval pottery in archaeology. The childhood collections are among the best anywhere, and they have social history and literary collections full of fascinating objects, documents and photographs from Edinburgh’s past.
Edinburgh Alphabet opened at the City Art Centre on 19 May and runs through to 8 October.
The exhibition is free to enter and will feature more than 300 objects, assembled together for the first time.
A comprehensive education and events programme will run alongside the show, ranging from performances by community choirs, family workshops, to talks and lectures by museum and gallery staff. The exhibition also includes a dedicated activity area designed especially for family groups.
Each letter of the alphabet has been given a theme around which objects have been grouped.
Edinburgh is the common thread that weaves through the exhibition. From Arts and Crafts, which includes work by Celtic revivalist John Duncan and a Phoebe Anna Traquair embroidered firescreen through to Zoo, that features ceramics from the short lived Zoo pottery as well as a magnificent painting by one of the founders of the city’s Zoo, the exhibition presents a unique opportunity to explore Edinburgh’s rich and diverse past. Visitors will delight in the beautifully crafted glassware from Holyrood Glass Factory or the 19th century Scottish jewellery on show, smile at the display of umbrellas and underwear, and uncover fascinating facts about life in Edinburgh and the people who have made it into the city we see around us today.
The City Art Centre is open Wednesday to Saturday 10am – 5pm; Sunday 12pm – 5pm.
- Aspects of Edinburgh from the City Art Centre’s collection by major Scottish artists alongside works recently restored and on show for the first time.
- Notable archaeological discoveries including Mesolithic (stone age) tools unearthed in Cramond – providing the first evidence of settlement in Edinburgh from what is thought to be Scotland’s oldest occupied site.
- Favourites from the Council’s Museum of Childhood, Museum of Edinburgh, Writers’ Museum, Lauriston Castle and Queensferry Museum – including a knife discovered in the Forth which belonged to a diver working on the Forth Bridge.
- Miniature models of some of the largest and most famous structures in Edinburgh – the Scott Monument, Burns Monument and Mercat Cross. A dolls’ house replica of Stockbridge House and elaborate stage sets of the city’s King’s Theatre.
- Recent items created by Edinburgh people – from protest placards from Edinburgh’s recent Women’s Marches to a display of the winning images from the gallery’s Capture Edinburgh photography competition.