None of my pictures will do it justice but that's ok: you will just have to come and see it yourselves! By the way, those who have been to the NMS in the past will recognise this as the revamped main hall. But this is no longer the entrance hall. The entrance hall is awesome in a very different way and I don't have a pic of it, I'm afraid. I blame the fact that I had a glass of champagne in my hand at the time and didn't want to put it down.
So, what about the stories? The National Museum of Scotland is about stories - the stories of our lives, all of our lives. All museums are, but this is an epic of, well, epic proportions. See, already I am running out of words. In no other city can you find everything under one roof: animals, insects, birds, science, geology, arts, fashions, furniture, jewels, machinery, revolutions - industrial and martial - materials and objects from every culture, every age. And beauty, just so much beauty.
My family has its own personal stories of the Museum. It's where Edinburgh parents - and anyone who could get to or found themselves in Edinburgh as tourists - spent wet weekends with their children. It was (is) free, glorious, full of ancientness, central, endless and had vast shallow staircases to slide down. Oh, and much opportunity to get lost. The animal rooms were our favourite. So much better than the zoo because all the animals were always there, never hiding. (Though what we never knew was that 80% of the Museum collections had never been shown - and that's one of the main things this new project has rectified.) There was the vast blue whale suspended above our heads, and the elephants almost within tickling distance. There were dusty rows of insects - in a room which I preserve in Deathwatch, where I have a scene in the insect and arthropod gallery, a room that you will never now see. (Buy the book!)
It was in the animal rooms one day that my two children, perhaps aged five and seven, danced and sang the Stranglers' lyrics, "No more heroes any more." We are not quite sure why they did this (unless we were in the extinct animals room at the time) but it led to another story of its own. About twelve years later, my husband and I met Hugh Cornwell, formerly of the Stranglers, and were having a drink with him when I happened to mention our daughters' rendition of No More Heroes. He was somewhat bemused by this idea, unsurprisingly, and, to cut a long story short, the next night all four of us met Hugh C for a drink, so he could meet the girls who'd sung his lyrics beneath the blue whale of the Museum.
On budget, on time, as the organisers have kept saying to us throughout. Unlike a couple of other notable Edinburgh building projects that I won't mention.
There is only one controversial aspect of the whole project. Please brace yourself. You will be shocked.
What? No more bacteriaful water for children to trail their chocolately fingers in? No more gazing at the money lying temptingly amongst the glutinous goldfish excrement? No more nauseating smell of something not unlike a stagnant rock pool?
Come visit the National Museum of Scotland in all its glory. It has stories to tell you.