Two major new buildings opened in Dunfermline and Glenrothes in 2017/18. Much more than bricks and mortar, both buildings capture our vision of a modern, integrated cultural provider. The award-winning Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries combines libraries, a museum and beautiful purpose-built galleries in one lively venue. Attracting an impressive footfall, it contributed to overall visitor numbers for our museums and heritage sites, which increased to 383,498, a significant rise from 263,803 in 2016/17. At the heart of the local community, DCL&G has also established a UK-wide profile – 12 awards to date and extensive media coverage.
The second building is the new, state of the art Collections Centre at Bankhead, Glenrothes. Fife’s precious heritage and collections are now under one roof. For the first time, artefacts from across Fife have been brought together, reaping huge benefits for exhibitions, archiving, preservation and public access.
In 2017/18 we took a huge step forward in making our collections and archives accessible to a much larger audience around the world. Many more records from our collections went live on the very popular Ancestry.co.uk and Ancestry Institution websites. In November, a nationwide campaign, which generated high profile media coverage, explored the colourful past of Fifers from the early 20th century and resulted in the public viewing 160,000 of our records. 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 pieces to the world.
The opening of DCL&G in May 2017 marked the culmination of a ten year period of capital investment in Fife’s museums. Milestones included the integration of Kirkcaldy Museum and Library to create Kirkcaldy Galleries in 2013. We followed this in 2017 with the opening of our fabulous new Collections Centre at Bankhead. Delivering these projects has been intensive for the teams involved but has created a strong platform from which to develop our services. Over the next 18 months the Trust will work to develop and test thinking about how our museums will advance over the next decade.
The Collections Centre was completed at Bankhead in Glenrothes, bringing together artefacts from across Fife. The benefits of having everything under one roof are dramatic. Many more collaborations with national organisations such as the National Museums of Scotland are now underway, all of which helps raise the profile of Fife’s collections and archives.
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) access in a way that was never 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. If you fancy coming to visit us, and our archives, at Bankhead you can make an appointment by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01592 583352.
Attracting new younger audiences to our services is a priority. Over two weeks in July, we worked with Dunfermline Young Archaeologists Summer School to introduce groups of teenagers to the resources 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 called 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 wrote The Wealth of Nations at home in Kirkcaldy.
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. Our brand new Community Gallery at Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries 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 photographic exhibition Polish Paths to Freedom show commemorated the 13,000 officers and men of the Polish 1st Division Corps who were stationed in Scotland between 1940 and 1947. Gifted by the Kujawsko-Pomorskie region of Poland, the opportunity arose with Fife Council to display the photos at Rothes Halls as part of Glenrothes’ 70th anniversary.
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.
Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries hosted a series of Sunday Seminars, opening up local studies to a whole new, and very engaged audience, taking interest in talks on a mixture of local subjects given by experts, academics and nationally recognised speakers.
An exciting exhibition programme will range from the extraordinary objects and jewellery brought to Kirkcaldy Galleries by Fife Contemporary to Blooming Marvellous, an amazingly creative, family-friendly gardening show at DCL&G. Exploring and showcasing our fabulous collections will continue with public curators’ tours, talks and behind-the-scenes peeks into our Collections Centre. Loans to the V&A in Dundee and putting digitised criminal records and photos online will take us out to whole new audiences.