National Museums Scotland honoured with international prize

National Museums Scotland has received a major international award for the six new science and technology galleries which opened last summer.

The National Museum of Scotland was announced as the winner of the 2017 Dibner Award for Excellence in Museum Exhibits at the annual conference of the Society for the History of Technology in Philadelphia.

Dr Gordon Rintoul, director of National Museums Scotland, said: ‘The Dibner Award is the world’s most prestigious award in the field of technology in museums and so we are naturally delighted to receive this level of recognition for our new Science and Technology galleries.

‘Visitor numbers and feedback have already shown how popular these galleries are, and it is gratifying to have the endorsement from our peers for the intellectual rigour and scholarship which underpins these displays as well as our innovative use of interactive components to enhance them.’

National Museums Scotland has received a major international award for the six new galleries which opened last summer

The judging panel praised the way that:

‘[The Museum] successfully tackled the major challenge of producing a general exhibit on the history of technology through six thematic galleries rooted in scholarly discourse but at the same time making both the chronology of technological innovation and the social issues around that innovation clear to the public. Two particular strengths of the exhibit are its focus on Scottish history in global context and its use of interactives beyond mere video screens.’

Recent winners of the Dibner Award include the Smithsonian Design Museum, the National Museum of American History, the Science Museum in London and the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

The six science and technology galleries opened in summer 2016 alongside four more new galleries devoted to decorative art, design and fashion in a £14.1 million project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Wellcome Trust and the Scottish Government.

The galleries feature around 1000 objects covering over 250 years of enquiry and innovation, with worldwide resonance in areas as diverse as engineering, medicine, transport, communication, physics and chemistry. Highlights include one of the two oldest railway locomotives in the world; a 2-tonne Copper Cavity from CERN’s Large Electron Positron Collider; three Formula 1 racing cars; the world’s first pneumatic tyre, developed in Scotland by John Boyd Dunlop; as well as ground-breaking contemporary initiatives like the world’s first bionic arm, a mouse kidney grown from stem cells and Dolly the Sheep. A dramatic atrium showcases a spectacular aerial squadron of iconic aircraft, including Percy Pilcher’s Hawk, the earliest British aircraft, and a 1940 Tiger Moth biplane.

The new state-of-the-art galleries are the latest phase in an £80 million masterplan to transform the Museum and showcase the breadth of its world class collections. The masterplan will be completed in early 2019 with the completion of two new galleries devoted to Ancient Egypt and East Asia.

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