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The Museum of Edinburgh houses part of the City’s very fine and exceedingly varied collections, and it occupies a group of Grade ‘A’ listed buildings, the largest collection of c.16th urban buildings in Scotland. The buildings and its contents present unique physical evidence of how life in the Canongate and the neighbouring burgh of Edinburgh evolved over many centuries.
Benjamin Tindall Architects led a major feasibility study into a significant upgrading and enlargement of the existing Museum and its grounds in 2004 for Edinburgh Council. In 2010, funds were identified for a first phase of work to improve visitor facilities and enable occupation of long-vacant neighbouring Acheson House through the creation of independent offices for Edinburgh World Heritage Trust on the ground and first floors. The Canongate courtyard was re-landscaped to include historical planting and a former entrance was re-opened, leading from the courtyard to the new Museum reception and shop. A new ground floor link between Huntly House and Acheson House allowed a new audio-visual exhibition and waiting area to be created in the former dining room of the latter, sponsored by Registers of Scotland.
Artistic touches were incorporated throughout, including beautiful lettering and historical documents as wallpaper. The revitalised exterior reflects the rich and varied history of the buildings and former vibrancy of the Canongate streetscape which also acts as an external exhibit whilst improving the visibility of the Museum on the street.
Repairs and alterations were approached with sensitivity and care, including carefully chosen materials and finishes, whilst research into previous alterations allowed interesting features to be re-opened to great effect.
The built and proposed designs for the Museum reflect our understanding of the historical soul of the buildings and the incredible historic setting. Phase 1 was completed Spring 2012 and has raised a 2-star into a 4-star attraction and been shortlisted for the EAA Conservation award.
Museum website: www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/Venues/Museum-of-Edinburgh
Susie Leiper, calligrapher & artist: www.susieleiper.com