Heritage and history merge in fabulous festival weekend

Bringing history to life at Melrose Abbey
Bringing history to life at Melrose Abbey

Think you know museums? Think again! Forget all the cliches of dusty glass cases and think silent discos and Georgian costumes, not to mention family fun days, heraldry crafts and treasure hunts.

Because all this and more is on offer across Scotland during the Festival of Museums, a three-day event whch celebrates the sheer variety and excellence of our museums.

Now in its 11th year, the annual celebration of the magic of heritage, science and history runs from Friday, May 19, to Sunday, May 21.

Its aim is to get people into museums so the packed programme hopes to spark and inspire imaginations.

This year it’s bigger than ever before, with 25 per cent more events than last year.

Joanne Orr, chief executive of Museums Galleries Scotland, said: “We give museums and galleries, big and small alike, the opportunity to do something special – to showcase their collections in unique and creative ways. This year is no exception.

“The action-packed weekend will give visitors an opportunity to celebrate culture, discover history and learn something new, as well as have some fun!

“We want to ignite imaginations and encourage people to explore Scotland’s incredible museums and galleries.”

Venues in the Scottish Borders will welcome visitors with creative and hands-on activities, while spotlighting the wealth of culture showcased by its best-loved attractions.

From May 19 to May 21, guests are invited to visit Paxton House for a Georgian festival.

As well as mouth-watering cooking demos, musicians will play a Steinway grand piano in the picture gallery as costumed guides lead tours around the country house.

Architectural tours will also be held at Paxton House on May 20 and 21 when guests can discover more about the design of the building and the waterwheel restoration.

On May 20, the Chronicle of Melrose will be held at Melrose Abbey.

Families can see new or restored objects on display as well turning their hand to writing illuminated letters like the ones in the original 12th century manuscript written at the Abbey.

Jill van Milligen of Historic Enviroment Scotland collections said: “Four 15th century sandstone statues were removed from the walls of the abbey in the 1980s because they were getting weathered and damaged.

“Now they are being returned to us and will be on display again for the first time in 30 years.

“We also have 46 objects which have been restored and given more prominent positions and interpretation.

“They include a fragment of 14th century glasses, one of only 32 examples in the world, and the handle and blade of mediaeval scissors.”

Activities for all the family will include carving demos by stonemasons, object handling sessions and guided tours of the abbey starting at 11am.

Hawick Museum will host two events. Kick Start Your Night on May 19 from 7pm to 10pm will see a silent disco take place in the Scott Gallery. A photo booth will be set up with props, costumes and stage dressing.

On the ground floor, the main hall will host craft sessions while the domestic room boasts a guess-the-object quiz.

The venue will also hold a family fun day on May 21 with heraldry crafts, face painting and a tricky treasure hunt through the park from 1pm to 3pm using the new outdoor classroom and Wilton Lodge Park.

Interior design fans are invited to Peebles Burgh Hall on May 20 to hear the story of a traditional firm which created beautiful ornamental plasterwork.

Plastered will allow people to delve into photos and documents from the archives, see traditional skills in action and try their hand at their own moulds.