Conjunctures and Convergences

Remaking the World Cultures Displays at the National Museum of Scotland

in Museum Worlds
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The opening of the World Cultures galleries in Edinburgh in 2011 marked the renewal of the well-loved, much visited, and rebranded National Museum of Scotland, a museum that has long envisaged its role in national and international terms. Tracing an episodic trajectory over 150 years, the article highlights key moments (in the 1850s upon founding, the 1940s after World War II, and the late 2000s during the renovation) when culture and citizenship were subjects of debate. This museum historiography forms the explanatory framework for the principles underlying the development of new World Cultures galleries and the collecting of indigenous North American art and material culture. Two galleries—Artistic Legacies and Living Lands—are used to explore the theoretical underpinning and representational practices deployed, and how voices, objects, images, and partnerships were used not only to respond to critiques of ethnographic museum display but also to engender more open and optimistic connectivities.