Edinburgh Museums and Galleries

Russell Clegg, 15.01.2015
A partnership-approach to pop-up exhibitions
In 2012, following a comprehensive two-year restoration, a public engagement project for Edinburgh’s Georgian Assembly Rooms was launched. This included a pop-up exhibition that would take the social and civic history of the 227-year old venue on tour around the city.

Some of the content for the exhibition came from stories and memories that the city’s residents had shared during an outreach project. The Assembly Rooms doesn’t have a collection or archive, so we also sourced artefacts and objects from Edinburgh Museums and Galleries to tell the story of the building.

This involved working in partnership across council departments, so a joined-up approach between venues and the collection’s staff was fundamental.

Choosing host venues for the exhibition was straightforward and, in line with the City of Edinburgh Council’s vision for more partnership working, the city’s libraries embraced the idea of the pop-up displays in their venues.

We focused on libraries that had museum-standard cabinets in order to make the exhibition less challenging to install. Interpretation panels were mounted on easels or in the cabinets themselves. We also sourced floorplans, which were crucial in order to maximise public engagement but not detract from other services.

Overall, the reception from the public was positive. The exhibition offered communities an opportunity to view their heritage in local, accessible venues. They attracted new audiences and staff felt that their workplaces, and the services they offered, were enhanced.

Russell Clegg is a heritage and outreach assistant at the City of Edinburgh Council