Objects at the National Museums Collections Centre. Photo: Neil Hanna

NMS relocates millions of objects to new storage facility

Gary Noakes, 30.06.2015
£12m collection centre covers 6,000 sq metres
National Museums Scotland (NMS) has relocated nearly 10 million objects to its new Edinburgh storage facility.

The £12m National Museums Collection Centre is part of an existing collections site at Granton on Edinburgh’s waterfront and was opened by Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop on 24 June. It contains material from NMS’s Scottish history, archaeology and natural sciences collections.

The three-storey building, funded by the Scottish government, covers 6,000 sq metres. There are dedicated environments for vulnerable objects, such as archaeological metalwork. Clear access routes permit efficient building maintenance and effective cleaning and pest monitoring.

Among the objects moved into the new building are a 5.2 metre-long sperm whale skull and a Roman tombstone found at East Lothian in the late 1990s that weighs more than 360kg.

The opening of the new facility has enabled NMS to move items out of two long-time storage facilities, at a former first world war naval hospital at Port Edgar and at Leith Customs House.

NMS said neither of these locations was fit for purpose in terms of conservation or access to material. Port Edgar has been handed back to the Scottish government and Leith Customs House sold to Edinburgh City Council, which has still to decide on its future use.

“It is extremely important that the collections that are not on public display but which have enormous significance, particularly to researchers across a huge range of disciplines and countries, are kept in such a way that assures their good condition in perpetuity and which is properly organised and accessible,” said Bruce Minto, chairmain of the board of trustees of NMS.

“This new building is an important step on the way to achieving that goal for all of the national collections.”

The collection centre will be open to the public on in September as part of Doors Open Day, a free annual architectural event in Scotland.