January 28, 2019

UK - Scotland - Edinburgh in a nutshell - National Museum of Scotland

This is no travel blog so don't expect advises or points to check. We decided to do a city break in Edinburgh on November, we bought the plane tickets and booked a hotel and forgot about it over the holidays. Having a collie (Scottish Shepherd Dog) I always wondered how Scotland might look like. I somehow imagined it to be similar to Ireland and Edinburgh similar to Dublin. I was wrong.

Edinburgh is more stony than Dublin, you feel like you are constantly near a church, Edinburgh is grey even when it's not raining and I don't know why but Edinburgh reminded me of Luxembourg with that massive slope dividing the old and the new town. To me Edinburgh is more like Belfast than Dublin, but maybe I'm just confusing things right now.

So we had three full days in Edinburgh and the first thing we (read my husband) wanted to do was to visit the castle. You can't avoid it if you are a tourist in Edinburgh. Only after I've read about an interesting exhibition at the Scottish National Museum, we left the castle for the second day and we went there first. The museum is free and it has one or two temporary exhibitions which cost 10 euro. But be prepared to spent a whole day there. Organised on three floors and five sections, you have plenty of things to see whatever your interests are.
I of course went to the fashion section, which is called Art, Design and Fashion, but I've enjoyed also the World Cultures and Scottish History sections. There were also Science and Technology and Natural Sciences, but I only passed through them in a rush. 

The Fashion section introduced me to the Scottish Fashion through the ages. I got to touch the fabrics, listen to stories, see and photograph all the exhibited items. I think I've spent most of the time there. I was drawn to the temporary exhibition and I really want to talk more about that.
In every country I've visited when talking about embroidery, every pupil would produce a sample. I only saw them collected, documented and exhibited in Scotland, in Edinburgh. It is fascinating to see that those apparent unimportant pieces of fabric hold so many stories. Initially I thought that the samplers were made by young girls when they learned to do embroidery, but it turned out that they were also used to copy patterns and also to prove the girl's skills in an event of a marriage. They were framed and exhibited around the house and that lead me to something we call "p─âretare" they are pieces of fabric embroidered with sayings which mostly the Romanians in Transylvania used to decorate their home (mainly the kitchen). I think they were inspired by the Transylvanian Saxons, but I'm not sure.

Going back to the Scottish Samplers, I found the exhibition fascinating. So much dedication to date and trace them, so much care in placing them in frames and exhibit them and mostly in finding their story. They had samplers that belonged to the whole family, they had samplers made by boys, they knew the explanations of the buildings embroidered and of the patterns and animals. If you are just a little bit interested in embroidery, you will love the exhibition. Though a temporary one, we were told that the samplers will be donated to the museum, so who knows?
I also liked the room with Fabric of life, I think it was part of the World Cultures exhibition, but it showed textiles from around the world and their role in that specific place. It also had touching samples of fabric and interesting stories relating one part of the world with another through fashion. I loved the care and the connections made and I also think I've spent there a lot of time reading and studying all.
At the science and technology section I've discovered the cloned sheep, Dolly. I had no idea she was Scottish, but she was and after her death she was exhibited at the museum.
The museum has a cafe and two floors and I simply did not feel the time passing as I've marvelled at all the exhibits. It is an ethnographic museum, a history museum, a science museum all rolled into one and I can almost guaranty that you will like it.

I have to say that from Luxembourg, in January 2019, you can go to Edinburgh only by stopping in Amsterdam first, but I've heard that they plan a direct flight from Luxembourg to Edinburgh in the near future.

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