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An action packed year for our Museum, Gallery & Archives visitors and staff, featuring inspirational collaborations with new and long established partners and supporters from the local community.
Overall visitor numbers to our museums and heritage sites in 2017-18 was 383,498 (up from 263,803 in 2016/17). This dramatic increase was largely due to the opening of Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries and the high weekly average number of visitors who have flooded through the doors since.
In addition, many more records from our collections went live on the Ancestry.co.uk and the Ancestry Institution websites. In November, more than 16,000 pages from the criminal registers were viewed online as part of a nationwide campaign which explored the colourful past of Fifers from the early 20th century, as documented in the nationwide press. Work is now underway to add records of our sculpture to the Art UK website, which works with the UK’s public art collections to showcase work to the world.
Commenced in April 2017, an outstanding new state of the art Collections Centre was completed at Bankhead in Glenrothes, bringing together artefacts from across Fife.
200,000 items were moved – the equivalent of 63 house moves!
More than 39,000 museum records were updated this year, giving researchers (who range from local hobbyists to the BBC) can now access collections in a way that has never been possible before.
We continue to add items to the collections which help tell Fife’s amazing stories. Two rings discovered this year, came to us through the Treasure Trove scheme – a Roman silver finger ring and a gorgeous gold and amethyst ring. The gold ring was lost in Cardenden around 400 years ago and is the first of its kind found in Scotland. A reward was paid to the finders with the support of the National Fund for Acquisitions and the Museums Association’s Beecroft Bequest. Archives acquired a printed booklet with a map showing the roads to be used by refugees if the Fife coast was invaded by the Germans during WWI – thankfully never needed!
Our new Search Room at Bankhead welcomed its first visitors in May 2017 complementing our local studies research facilities at Kirkcaldy Galleries and Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries.
Over two weeks in July, we worked with Dunfermline Young Archaeologists Summer School to introduce groups of teenagers to the resources available to them in Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries. At Kirkcaldy Galleries in June, as part of a Heritage Lottery funded project to put young Fifers in touch with their local heritage, we worked with 59 children from Kirkcaldy North Primary School and puppeteers Suit and Pace to develop a play which will tour the primary schools of Fife.
Many of the children had never visited the Galleries before and the project has shown the potential for the local studies collection in developing information literacy and research skills. In September the jamboree at Methil Library brought the family and local history of Levenmouth to life with displays and activities for all ages.
MAC, Fife’s unique Mobile Museum, relaunched with a fun and nostalgic exploration of the science behind domestic appliances – Wow: Incredible Inventions & Marvellous Machines.
Our Collections Manager Gavin Grant shared the story of Kirkcaldy’s famous son, economist Adam Smith, with the team from the BBC’s Antiques Road Trip in August. Our unique collection features objects belonging to Smith himself, including a pewter inkstand believed to have been used while he was writing The Wealth of Nations at home in Kirkcaldy.
Curating an extensive programme of exhibitions across our venues, complemented by workshops, activities and events, our museum spaces at Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries, Kirkcaldy Galleries, St Andrews Museum, Methil Heritage Centre and MAC (Fife’s mobile museum) showcase Fife’s wonderful collections and enable visitors to experience a wide range of cultural material, with an rich mix of social history, contemporary and traditional art, craft and photography. Our brand new Community Gallery at Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries [please link to DCLG section within website] now joins the successful Fifespace and Fotospace galleries at Lochgelly Centre and Rothes Halls in offering further exhibition opportunities to community groups and artists.
The Museum Studies students from the University of St Andrews delivered our 21st partnership exhibition at St Andrews Museum, bringing some of our world collections from Japan and Africa out into the light under the title Ethics and Aesthetics. For the first time, we toured the students’ exhibition to a second venue, showing at Kirkcaldy Galleries in late summer.
An opportunity arose with Fife Council to display the photographic exhibition Polish Paths to Freedom within Rothes Halls. Gifted by the Kujawsko-Pomorskie region of Poland and displayed as part of Glenrothes 70th anniversary, the show commemorated the 13,000 officers and men of the Polish 1st Division Corps who were stationed in Scotland between 1940 and 1947.
Crossing Cultures – organised by the Fife Arabic Society and believed to be the first of its kind in Scotland – showcased Arabic cultural and heritage and appeared at the Fife Space galleries of both Lochgelly Centre and the Rothes Halls.
DCLG Canmore Room hosted a series of Sunday Seminars, opening up local studies to a whole new audience, with an average of 25 attendees taking interest in talks on a mixture of local subjects given by experts, academics and nationally recognised speakers.