Thursday, 9 August 2007

Writers' Museum ~ 25 July 2007

The Writers' Museum in Edinburgh is a collection of items that focus on the lives and works of Scottish writers, specifically emphasizing Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Established in 1907, it is located in a historic 17th-century home. In the introductory area, there are busts of all three writers and an informative video about printing and publishing.

Robert Louis Stevenson: This exhibit contains a large collection of photographs of Stevenson as well as some of his original manuscripts and some artifacts related to his travels. It was especially neat to see a book that belonged to him with his personalized bookplate on it.

Sir Walter Scott: Once again, in this exhibit, there were photographs, manuscripts, letters, and some of Scott's belongings. A highlight of the exhibit was a model of Scott's dining room with figures representing Scott and his publisher and the accompanying feature of an audio conversation between the two gentlemen. It was neat to see Scott's writing desk there in the dining room display.

Robert Burns: Along with photographs and belongings, Burns' exhibit displayed his writing desk and a newspaper account of his death from 1796. A feature of this exhibit that I really enjoyed was the audio interpretation of some of Burns' letters and songs that played in the background as we browsed.

Some additional areas in the museum include a reading area and a display dedicated to the Makars' Court, which is essentially a "literary commemoration in stone." In the Makars' Court, stones are etched with quotations in honor of contemporary Scottish writers and added to the courtyard outside the museum. Makar is a Scots term and it refers to the role of poet/author as a skilled worker in the craft of writing. Beautiful! The funding for the Makars' Court comes from individuals and organizations such as Lothian and Edinburgh Enterprise, Ltd. and the City of Edinburgh Council.

I appreciated the design of the museum, because I felt like I was actually walking through an old home, creaky spiral staircases and all. Every part of the displays sets the writers in context of the world in which they lived and worked and why they were so influential. I learned a lot about these three particular writers, and I liked that there was more to learn about than just what they wrote. Instead, visitors are able to see these men in the light of their greater political and social surroundings.

No comments: