“COAL, CANARIES AND CAKE: 30 YEARS OF NATIONAL MINING MUSEUM SCOTLAND”
(from 21st November 2014 under further notice)
The museum is celebrating its 30th birthday with a special free exhibition guaranteed to fascinate and delight all its diversity of visitors.
The exhibition, named “Coal, Canaries and Cake; 30 Years of National Mining Museum Scotland”, looks back on three successful decades, during which it has both preserved some of Scotland’s most precious and fragile industrial heritage and turned itself into a thriving visitor attraction that Scots voted their most cherished place.
Housed in the stunningly-restored Lady Victoria Colliery, the museum was opened on a modest scale in 1984 and has been lovingly transformed by staff and volunteers into one of Scotland’s top visitor attractions, with a 5-Star rating from VisitScotland and plaudits as winner of the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions Best Visitor Experience in both 2009 and 2013.
Built in the 1890s by the Lothian Coal Company, and served by one of Europe’s biggest purpose-built mining villages, the ‘Lady’ was Scotland’s first “super pit” and regarded as a showpiece of engineering. It was an active working colliery until 1981 and remained a central site of the Lothians coalfield , even as newer, bigger and more technically advanced pits opened around it. Across nearly a century of operation it consistently produced a high output of coal.
In the process, it became a much-loved Midlothian landmark, prized for its elegant industrial architecture and the lively history it encapsulated. Since its closure, the National Mining Museum of Scotland Trust has cared for the buildings and progressively brought them back into use as a home for both permanent and temporary exhibits showcasing the priceless heritage of Scotland’s mining industry and communities.
Among the highlights of the past 30 years were: a £5.3m Heritage Lottery and European Regional Funded project which led to the restoration of buildings providing a new visitor centre, gift shop and café in 1999; . a new multi-media guide, introduced in 2011; the Energy Lab, Mini Miners Soft Play centre, Interactive Zone and Special Exhibition Gallery, opened in 2012; and the unveiling, in 2013, of Scotland’s first National Mining Memorial Centre in Lady Victoria’s former Rewasher building.
“The exhibition focuses on the museum’s community, including its own staff, volunteers, visitors etc. Sections of the text have been written by different members of our team and the objects on display have been chosen by them too. Rather than a curatorial selection of what we feel is important to tell and show people, the exhibition really represents what the museum means to those who have been involved with it, and hopefully what it means to the wider community as well. There will also be a small selection of objects on display in Newtongrange library and in the Post Office, so remember to have a look at those too!”
Ellie Swinbank, Keeper.