Looking At Edinburgh

23 October 2008

Royal Museum of Scotland: Empty Steps

The museum on Chambers Street

The Royal Museum of Scotland (44 Chambers Street – you can’t miss it, though you also can’t get in now) was designed by Captain Francis Fowke of the Royal Engineers, and the building was begun in 1861: Prince Albert’s last public act was to lay the foundation stone on 23rd October, 147 years ago. (Prince Albert died on 14 December that same year). It was then called the Museum of Science and Art, and in many ways it still is – or was: I don’t know what it will be when they’re done with it.

It was the museum I most loved just to wander round in when I was a child; the stuffed animals, the machines that lit up and did things when you pressed a button, the cases with beautiful porcelain and jade and glass, the long dry-smelling wooden halls with geological exhibits, the vast hall with the galleries and doors, and the two pools of goldfish. It’s closed now “till when” – it is now the Royal Museum Project, to “reinvent our museum to share the exceptional collections and create a truly world-class National Museum of Scotland”. Well, I hope so. But I also hope that children will still roam and stare.


These photos are available on Redbubble: Museum steps and Three children.

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