I will admit this – I’m terrible at parties, so the New Year pressure for a ‘big night’ tends not to be my thing. And you know what, I make no apologies. I had a brilliant time this year/last year.
New Year’s Eve was mostly spent wondering around my favourite place in Edinburgh – the National Museum of Scotland – followed by staying in with my loved ones, sipping on Southern Comfort and watching some quality music on Jools Holland. New Year’s Day consisted of cooking for old friends, and spending ten hours just chatting about anything and everything…just rediscovering why you’ve been friends for so long. In my book, that’s pretty much perfect.
One of the reasons I love the museum so much is the transformation it has undergone since reopening in Autumn last year. Growing up, I always felt it was a strange, dark, imposing place with lots of dead things in it. Now it’s become beautifully light and open…enchanting you into exploring it. Admittedly it still has a lot of dead things in it, but I’ll get over that.
It’s become something of a meditative place for me, a place to lose yourself in, to be inspired and calmed by. I think it’s something about the quality of the light diffusing through the glass roof and the arched, Victorian structure of the interior reflected in every exhibit’s glass case. I’m still taking time to discover every nook and cranny of the whole place – if I knew I couldn’t go back regularly I think I would probably feel overwhelmed by the whose place. I guess that is the beauty of getting to know your own city’s culture – something I tend to be very bad at. There was also a ceilidh for kids in the museum on New Year’s Eve – really cool to get a bird’s eye view of ceilidh dancing!
My favourite part of the museum is the ‘Window on the World’ exhibition and it isn’t really an ‘exhibition’ at all – and I think that is why I love it, because it blurs the lines between something being exhibited because it is of educational value, because of its cultural importance or interest, and being on display simply because it is beautiful. Similar objects, like a collection of corals, are exhibited next to a completely different group of objects, like antique typewriters. And these might be next to a five-seater bike, or ancient spears, or some ceramic tiles, or a whale jaw covered in scrimshaw. The eclecticism is incredibly enchanting, because there is no or minimal explanation here; it’s just something of a patchwork of odd, interesting and functional things that people over the years have noticed, invented, studied and collected. Makes me feel quite happy, and quite at home, that such a bricolage of beauty and interest can exist under one roof.