Tour Edinburgh's landmarks and hidden gems at Conference 2022 - Museums Association

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Tour Edinburgh’s landmarks and hidden gems at Conference 2022

Our exciting programme of tours on Saturday 5 November will give delegates the opportunity to explore some of Edinburgh’s incredible museums and galleries, and hear the innovative work happening across the city in relation to our four conference themes: decolonisation, anti-racism, environmental sustainability and wellbeing.

All tours are limited to 20 delegates on a first-come, first-served basis unless otherwise stated.

*Please note that all tours on this page are in-person only. Stay tuned for the announcement of our digital tours programme.

National Museum of Scotland: Ancient Egypt Rediscovered gallery


Ancient Egypt Rediscovered National Museums Scotland

National Museums Scotland’s Ancient Egyptian collection comprises around 6,000 items, including many internationally significant objects. Delegates will be given a tour of the Ancient Egypt Rediscovered gallery by Dan Potter, assistant curator, Ancient Mediterranean.

Dan will discuss his newly launched Arts and Humanities Research Council project, Buying Power: The Business of British Archaeology and the Antiquities Market in Egypt and Sudan 1880-1939, which looks how ancient Egyptian and Sudanese objects came to be in the museum’s collections. The project focuses on several individuals who intersected the roles of excavator and dealer in British-led excavations in Egypt and Sudan 1880-1939 and explores the impact of their activities on the museum’s collections today.

Museum of Scottish Fire Heritage


The new purpose-built museum at McDonald Road Community Fire Station

After years of planning and anticipation, the long-awaited reopening of this museum takes place in the summer of 2022. The new space utilises the museum’s extensive collection of vintage fire appliances, historical uniforms and operational equipment to take visitors on a journey exploring the early days of firefighting across Scotland through to the modern day single service.

The tour is an opportunity to learn more about the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service and the role it plays in keeping the communities of Scotland safe. See how safety advice has changed over the years and find out what action you can take in your own homes and communities to stay safe, as well as hearing about the service’s innovative strategy to ensure a mentally healthy working environment for all its employees. 

Edinburgh monuments


Scott Monument, Edinburgh

Scott Monument 

Explore one of Edinburgh’s most iconic landmarks with Roz Third, visitor and monument assistant supervisor with Museums and Galleries Edinburgh. Having worked in guest-facing and team management roles for many years, Roz has a passion for team and visitor engagement and is eager to build on this within a museums and galleries environment. The Scott Monument tour will include a brief overview of the history and architecture of the monument, with references to the Scottish author Sir Walter Scott, to whom the monument is dedicated. 

This tour is limited to 12 people on a first come, first served basis. Please meet at 9.50am for a 10.00am tour. 

Nelson’s Monument 

Perched atop Calton Hill, Nelson’s Monument was built to commemorate Nelson’s death at the Battle of Trafalgar and offers some of the best panoramic views of the city. Free entry to the monument’s viewing platform and ground floor museum is available to conference delegates arriving between 10.00am and 10.30am. This tour is self-guided and limited to 16 people on a first come, first served basis. Please show your delegate badge upon entry. 

National Museum of Scotland: Collecting Stories gallery


The Collecting Stories gallery opens at the National Museum of Scotland in summer 2022 National Museums Scotland

John Giblin, Keeper of Global Arts, cultures and Design, will talk about the development of this new gallery, which has been transformed to be much more open, transparent and reflective about how material has come to be in the collections of National Museums Scotland. This includes material with colonial associations as well as contemporary collecting and Treasure Trove.

The refreshed gallery features a wider range of voices, including displays in which the museum has worked closely with communities to tell new stories about collections, collectors and why we continue to collect today.

The Georgian House


The Georgian House National Trust for Scotland

In the late 1700s, this grand townhouse was at the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town development. Like so many buildings in Scotland’s capital city, the Georgian House has direct, indirect and intergenerational links to historic enslavement. Not only has it links relating to the residents of this particular home, no. 7 Charlotte Square, the house can also reveal narratives about how slavery impacted on the wealth, culture and heritage of Scotland’s capital city, and the country as a whole.

This guided tour will focus on the links of Georgian and Regency Edinburgh residents to historic enslavement. Drawing on research generated by the National Trust for Scotland’s Facing Our Past project, which has uncovered to date connections to enslavement at 49 properties, the tour will show how the trust is addressing these histories.

Dovecot Studios


Dovecot Studios

Dovecot Studios is a world-renowned tapestry studio and a landmark centre for contemporary art, design and textiles. The studios offer a space for quiet contemplation, promoting creativity and wellbeing. Delegates will be given a tour of the exhibition Knitwear: From Chanel to Westwood, which features more than 150 inspirational knitwear pieces from the collection of Mark and Cleo Butterfield.

The show charts important designers and the influence of art movements such as Modernism, Pop and Punk, alongside new knitwear technologies and design innovation. This will be followed by a tour of the Tapestry Studio Viewing Balcony, where delegates can watch tapestry and tufted rug commissions from contemporary artists being created by Dovecot’s team of weavers and textile artists, culminating with a Q&A session with a member of the Dovecot team.

Black History Walking Tour by Lisa Williams

1200-1300 and 1300-1400

Lisa Williams (centre in green coat) with visitors on her walking tour

A walking tour of Edinburgh to discover the city’s deep links with Africa and the Caribbean over the past 500 years. Hear the little-known stories of Edinburgh’s many visitors and residents of African, African American and Caribbean heritage from the 16th century to the present day, with a focus on the Caribbean, and Edinburgh’s role in the transatlantic slave system.

The tour will be led by Lisa Williams, founder of the Edinburgh Caribbean Association and honorary fellow in the department of History, Classics and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. The walk will take a circular route, starting and ending at the Museum of Edinburgh, where delegates will have an opportunity to see a display that Lisa worked on in partnership with Museums & Galleries Edinburgh. Comfortable footwear and warm clothing are advised.

Museum Collections Centre: Collecting the material culture of a changing city


A placard collected by Museums & Galleries Edinburgh during the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020

Anna MacQuarrie, history curator for Museums & Galleries Edinburgh, will discuss recent contemporary collecting projects undertaken in the city. There will be a particular focus on objects relating to experiences of lockdown and the Black Lives Matter movement, with reference to the museum service’s wider curatorial and engagement work.

A native Gaelic speaker, Anna is passionate about the place of minority languages in museums and collections and her curatorial interests are focused on material culture that reflects identity, community and social activism. There will be an accompanying tour of the Museum Collections Centre. This tour is limited to 12 delegates.

National Mining Museum Scotland


Visitors at the National Mining Museum Scotland

The National Mining Museum Scotland is moving towards telling the story of Scotland’s energy journey, not just coal, and will soon be opening new exhibits focusing on renewable energy and biodiversity. The museum is also embarking on new initiatives to reduce its own carbon footprint.

The tour will look at the museum’s sustainability work and its Climate Beacons project for last year’s Cop26 conference. The project aimed to create a transformative journey through the carbon cycle from Scotland’s past legacy of fossil fuels towards a future of decarbonisation, connecting local and international cultures through art and science. Delegates will also be able to explore the Lady Victoria Colliery’s Pithead and recreated underground experience. Comfortable footwear and warm clothing are advised.

National Museums Collection Centre and Granton Art Centre


Granton Art Centre

National Museums Collection Centre is a specialist care and research facility that holds the collections of National Museums Scotland, while the Granton Art Centre is Scotland’s first purpose-built art store for paintings, drawings and sculptures from the national collection. Delegates will be taken on an extensive two-part tour of these adjacent facilities.

In the National Museums Collection Centre they will find out about the institution’s invertebrate and wet collections, as well as exploring the vertebrates collection, where the institution’s large whale skeletons are kept. Delegates will also hear about National Museums Scotland’s involvement in the CryoArks Biobank project, a UK-wide zoological biobank intended to guard against biodiversity loss.

The tour of Granton Art Centre will include a presentation of the building and the community development plans for The Art Works, National Galleries Scotland’s project to create a sustainable new facility to care for and research Scotland’s national collection of art.

For security reasons, advance booking is essential for this tour. More information on how to book will be released closer to conference

City Art Centre: Enhancing the wellbeing of young people through art


The City Art Centre Edinburgh Museums and Galleries

Our tours programme will close at the City Art Centre, where Hannah Nugent, schools engagement officer for Museums & Galleries Edinburgh, will discuss the positive impact that gallery visits can have on the wellbeing of young people in disadvantaged communities, as well as ways to creatively engage children with the climate crisis.

A practising abstract artist, Hannah is passionate about the positive impact that art can have on emotional wellbeing and about facilitating exciting, creative experiences for children and young people. There will be an accompanying tour of the centre’s current exhibition, Incoming: New Acquisitions at the City Art Centre.

Image credit: Chris Fleming, CC-by-SA-2.0