Entertainer’s collection awarded nationally significant status - Museums Association

Entertainer’s collection awarded nationally significant status

Harry Lauder collection includes costumes and props such as twisted walking sticks
Collections
Harry Lauder sitting outside Lauder Ha', his home in Strathaven, with his niece Greta.  Beside him on the bench is the Freedom of Hamilton casket, part of the Recognised Collection
Harry Lauder sitting outside Lauder Ha', his home in Strathaven, with his niece Greta. Beside him on the bench is the Freedom of Hamilton casket, part of the Recognised Collection South Lanarkshire Council

A collection of costumes and props belonging to the entertainer Harry Lauder (1870-1950) has been recognised by Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) as a Nationally Significant Collection.

The Sir Harry Lauder Collection comprises around 600 objects including 250 pieces of character stage costumes and props such as his signature iconic twisted walking sticks. The entertainer is regarded as Scotland’s first successful international entertainer and a key figure in the development of music hall and variety theatre entertainment. 

A small number of items from the collection can be seen at Low Parks Museum, part of South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture Museum Service, and there are plans to show a large exhibition of the collection in 2023.

Margaret Cooper, South Lanarkshire Provost, said: “This collection of everything Harry Lauder is a fantastic addition to an already impressive collection of a wide range of subjects held by our museum service.

“Lauder was a huge icon of his day with a career that moved and impressed so many people around the world. He holds a special place in our area, having started off working in Hamilton and ending up living in his mansion Lauder Ha’ in Strathaven.

“This collection pays a fitting tribute to all of that, and I am sure it will continue to make the people of South Lanarkshire proud that he made our area his home.”

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MGS commissioned the artist Sophie Rowan to create a new work in response to the collection, which depicts tartan-clad Lauder with his trademark walking stick in hand, performing in character.

The collection includes items of clothing worn by the entertainer Harry Lauder. Copyright South Lanarkshire Council

This is the 51st award made by MGS as part of Scotland’s Recognition Scheme, which celebrates, promotes and invests in Nationally Significant Collections beyond those held in national museums and galleries.

Christopher Baker, director of European and Scottish art and portraiture at the National Galleries of Scotland and Recognition Committee Member, said: “The Sir Harry Lauder Collection becoming recognised as one of Scotland’s Nationally Significant Collections is the result of several years of painstaking research, care, cataloguing and digitisation by the team at South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture Museum Service.

“We are delighted that their hard work and dedication has been rewarded and that the collection has been recognised as nationally significant to the story of Scotland’s cultural heritage.”

Lauder was born in Portobello, Edinburgh, and moved to South Lanarkshire as a boy to work in the coal mines. He developed a reputation locally as a comic-singer, then toured music halls in Scotland, Britain, the US and eventually the world, portraying numerous Scottish characters to increasingly large audiences.

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