New Treasures exhibition opens at the National Library of Scotland

Treasures of the National Library of Scotland is a new permanent themed exhibition, showcasing objects from the library’s extensive collection. From early printed books to video installations, maps and medieval manuscripts to passports and letters, this changing display offers a unique insight into Scotland’s history, culture and people, as well as its place in the world. world.

The Trésors exhibition opens to the public on Friday March 25, 2022 and presents works from all the collections of the National Library. Some showcases will be renewed every six months to explore the many rich facets of the Library’s archives.

Admission to the Treasures exhibition is free and suitable for all ages, with texts in English, Gaelic and Scottish.

In addition to the physical exhibit, Treasures will have a dedicated space on the library’s website, showcasing items that have been part of the exhibits, blogs and video content.

Newly updated individual display cases in the Treasures exhibition space are interspersed with interactive exhibits, localized audio tracks, archival film footage, and specially commissioned new writings and films in partnership with Neu! Reekie!

Displays include:

1. Ideas and beliefs

The written word played an essential role in the dissemination of ideas.

o The Iona Psalter, dating from between 1180 and 1220, is a highly decorated devotional text. It contains sacred songs known as psalms.

2. Bard of Scotland

Robert Burns (1759-1796) is Scotland’s most famous poet. His work is celebrated around the world.

o Ae Fond Kiss – a letter containing one of Robert Burns’ best-known love songs, on long-term loan from the National Galleries of Scotland (Watson Collection)

3. Gaelic

The Scottish Gaelic language and culture are an integral part of Scotland’s identity.

The library has one of the world’s largest collections of printed books and manuscripts in Scottish Gaelic.

o Gaelic medical manuscripts on pharmacy and remedies, dating from the 15th century, belonging to James Beaton of Dervaig on the Isle of Mull.

4. Shape the nation

The library collects material relating to the history of Scotland, from daily life to defining moments of national significance.

o Including Le Lyon en mourning – an account of the uprising compiled by the Reverend Robert Forbes (1708-1775)

5. Map our world

Maps frame our view of the world and our place in it, The Library has the

largest collection of maps in Scotland. All parts of the globe and all eras of

cartography are represented, from the first atlases to digital cartography.

o Timothy Pont’s maps became the primary source for the first Scottish atlas, produced by Joan Blaeu (1596-1673) in Amsterdam in 1654.

6. Travel

The Library’s collections are enriched with travellers’ stories.

o Isobel Wylie Hutchison (1889-1982) was a Scottish solo explorer, botanist, artist and writer

7. Innovation

The written word has played an important role in mankind’s efforts to

control and understand the world.

o On the origin of species by Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

8. Hobbies and arts

Hobbies and the arts can create a deep sense of joy, shared effort and community

o Letter from Ludwig van Beethoven to George Thomson on long-term loan from the National Galleries of Scotland (Watson Collection). Beethoven and Thomson corresponded with each other from 1803 – resulting in the unique sound of a Scottish song with classic Viennese accompaniment.

9. Literature

Cradle and homeland of great writers, Scotland has a rich literary culture that has developed over centuries.

o Examples of many translations of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – one of the most translated modern novels.

10. Book Arts

Books have long been considered works of art; for their text, illustration and binding.

o Superb examples of Scottish binding styles, herringbone binding (dates from the late 1670s) and wheel binding which was used in the mid 1720s.

11. People Power

Scotland has a long history of political movement and collective action.

o Material depicting the 1997 referendum on Scottish devolution, the first election to the Scottish Parliament and the journey to the opening of Parliament in 1999.

12. First printed books

The innovation of the printing press transformed the production of texts, enabling the rapid dissemination of knowledge and ideas

o The Gutenberg, Chepman & Myllar Bible (until July), The Aberdeen Breviary (from July)

13. Digital collection

Text production has evolved over time from handwritten manuscripts to printed books and digital publications.

o A ‘Pepper’s Ghost’ celebration by Scotsman Makar Jackie Kay, Makar of 2016.

There are other audiovisual displays in the space, including:

14. Sound Collections

o James Scott Skinner and wax cylinder recordings circa 1920s

15. Motion Picture Archive

o Where the Bens Stand Sentinel by Ronald L. Jay, 1928-32 (AKA Ronnie)

16. Neu! Treasures!

we had ! Treasures! Newly commissioned works in partnership with Neu! Reekie! in response to material displayed at launch.

The National Library and Neu! Reekie! have commissioned artists to respond to the collectibles that will be featured in the Treasures exhibition. Artists involved include Kapka Kassabova, Harry Josephine Giles, Hannah Lavery, David Kinloch, George Gunn, Kevin Williamson, Meg Bateman, Miriam Gamble, Emma Pollock, Nadine Aisha Jassat and Mark Cousins.

Each artist has created a new work of poetry, prose, song, or film in response to their collectible. This will be displayed on the interactive audio-visual gallery of the Treasures exhibition, as well as on the National Library’s website and social media. As a central part of the Treasures digital offering, a filmmaker creates films capturing the artists’ works, their connection to the Treasures element, and are filmed in spaces or locations related to the artists’ practice. [full list in notes to editors].

The launch of Neu! Treasures! is to take place live and in person at the National Library on April 1. Library Late x Neu! Reekie! Tickets, Fri, Apr 1, 2022, 7:00 PM | Eventbrite

Amina Shah, Chief Executive and National Librarian, said: “As the custodian of the nation’s published and recorded memory, we have an unparalleled collection of documents. The Treasures exhibition gives people a glimpse of the vast collections – many of which are usually stored among the several floors below them. We are delighted to launch this highly anticipated exhibition, which will provide visitors with a unique insight into Scotland’s history and its place in the world.

The Library is grateful to the donors who made this exhibition possible, namely the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Hugh Fraser Foundation, the National Library of Scotland Foundation, Sir Boyd Tunnock, Jeffrey Jay and Mike Lampert.

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