Scottish history and art lesson at Show Scotland 2010
From cannonball battles to war time rationing, Show Scotland makes Scottish history come alive. Kirstin Innes rounds up the best events
One of the most unfortunately underrated annual events in the country, Show Scotland is unfurling itself out across the May bank holdiay weekend again, and we advise you to sit up and pay attention. Not so much a festival as a nuanced celebration of Scottish history and art, Show Scotland, which has been running for five years now, takes place in museums and galleries up and down the country, from the Borders to Shetland, and this year they’ve got over 40 events packed into one busy little weekend.
The beauty of Show Scotland is that it allows museum and gallery curators up and down the country to really unleash their creativity, and usually leads to some very interesting events that engage with local history and bring museum exhibits to life through roleplay, drama, workshops and discussions. Here are some of The List’s top picks for a good day out.
Various venues in Dundee and St Andrews are joining forces to pay tribute to the hugely influential Scottish mathematician, biologist and classics scholar, D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, the Professor Brian Cox of the early 20th Century, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of his birth. Look out for street theatre piece about Wentworth Thompson’s life The Parrot and the Polymath across both cities, live music and creative writing workshops inspired by his work, as well as a lecture from Nobel Prize winning biologist Professor Lewis Wolpert at Dundee University.
Over in Alloway, they’re reacting just as creatively to another famous son of that parish: Beauty and the Bard uses the whole village of Robert Burns’ birthplace, as the setting for a roaming play about the poet’s life, told by seven of his lovers.
Modern-day bard Margaret Elphinstone will be taking audiences even further back in history, too, with a series of events in various venues around the Kilmartin area. Elphinstone’s latest historical novel The Gathering Night is set in that area in the Mesolithic period, and she’ll be talking about historical research and the process of imagining an area way back in its past, amongst other things.
If all this is a little gently paced for your liking, Glasgow’s Clydebuilt Maritime Museum are rather ambitiously recreating the blockade running travails of the American Civil War at their Smash And Grab event, before restaging a Confederate/Unionist naval battle. Yes, totally interactive – all visitors will be handed cannonballs and told to pick a side. Yes, we’re a little baffled too.
Finally, a number of the Show Scotland events this year commemorate the 65 years since the end of World War Two. We like the look of We’ll Meet Again at Glasgow’s People’s Palace, a full-on VE Day party complete with 1940s makeup demonstrations, interactive rationbook shopping, and a full-on swing dance.
Show Scotland, various venues across Scotland, Fri 30 Apr–Mon 3 May. For full details, see www.showscotland.com
Find out just how groovy wild flowers can be! 'Part of Show Scotland'.
Second World War Tea Dance
Frog march back in time to experience life during WWII. It wasn't all grim - try out the dance moves of the era like the jitterbug, jive and swing. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
Annual festival of creativity in Scotland that sees galleries and museums across the country open their doors for many exciting, and unexpected, events.
Show Scotland Weekend at Dumfries Museum
All weekend local crafter Rodney Holland will be working on a giant old tree trunk to produce a huge chainsaw sculpture - come and watch it take shape on Friday, Saturday and Monday between 10am and 12.30pm and 2pm and 4.30pm. On Friday at the same times Countryside Ranger Tom Henry will also be demonstrating the use of…
Fun, interactive, lighthouse-based activities for the bank holiday weekend, including making your own lighthouse and writing your name in flags. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
Garden Cottage Diaries
1790s-style cookery lessons with Fiona Houston, who lived an authentic 18th-century life for a year and is clearly not a woman who does things by halves. Booking essential. Ages 6+. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
Show Scotland at the Burrell Collection
As part of the nationwide Show Scotland programme, the Burrell team is running a range of fun activities helping you to discover the fascinating objects within the museum and the park.
Its show time at Scotlands museums and galleries BIG weekend!
A murder mystery set aboard a pirate ship - who will be forced to walk the plank? Booking essential. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
Captive Family Day
Storytelling, facepainting, art sessions and workshops as well as activities for kids. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
Auchindrain in Story and Song
See this amazing preserved example of a pre-clearance farming township, which comes alive with special event over the weekend. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
A dinner using locally sourced Scottish produce with Margaret Elphinstone, author of 'The Gathering Night', on hand for literary conversation. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
Beauty and the Bard
Learn about Robert Burns' women in this promenade theatre piece. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
Strange Tale of Medieval Murder Mystery
See inside both the Museum of Edinburgh and The People's Story Museum and meet some mysterious characters. Ages 6+. Booking essential. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
The Art of Production
Find out about bricks, coal and salt and take part in some arty and musical activities. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
Dance Around the World
Workshops in Bollywood and street dance as well as drop in boogying opportunities. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
Mind, Body & Soul
Drop in events for all the family related to health and faith. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
LOWSALT leads a workshop for ages 12-16 inspired by the current exhibition followed by a public performance at 4pm. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
Smash and Grab
Choose sides (the Union or the Confederates) and get ready for a battle with facepainting and other activities. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
80s Family Disco
Two discos with all the fun of the 80s. Booking required. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
Smoke and Mirrors
Two-day workshop with Alison Weightman in ancient firing methods from the East and West. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
Notes From the Museum
Annual event, featuring poetry and prose inspired by D’Arcy and his collections, written and performed by students on the Creative Writing MLitt course at the University of Dundee. Chaired by tutor Edward Small.
Jute and Jitterbugging
Go back to the 1940s and take part in Dundee's war effort and R&R efforts. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
A Night of Wine & Roses
See Jack Vettriano's new paintings accompanied by music, cocktails and live theatre. Ticket price includes entry into a prize draw and a Vettriano-inspired cocktail. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
Mysteries of the Caves of Learnie Uncovered
Guided Walks to coastal caves near Rosemarkie to mark the start of the museum's new exhibition, which features the findings of local 19th century amateur archaeologist, Dr William McLean. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
Two days of events about the history of glass as well as a workshop to create stained glass. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
The Kirtle and the Highland Plaid
Storyteller and singer Lilian Ross leads activities to launch the museum's Scottish Marriage Customs exhibition. Ages 3+. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
A Knight's Tale
Motherwell goes medieval with demonstrations and activities. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
Activities relating to engines of all sizes. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
Black Watch Tales
Stories and songs about the well-known regiment. Under 12s must be accompanied. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
Art, Rhythm and Dance
Activities to celebrate the modern dance pioneer and artist Margaret Morris. 'Part of Show Scotland'.
Oscar and the Highland Castle
Answering a call for help, Oscar the mouse leaves his attic home and heads for Loch Ness where he finds Incy Wincy Spider among the ruins of an old castle. Mysteriously swept back in time, Oscar joins Incy’s campaign to free the castle from English rule and restore Scotland’s independence!
Here, one of Scotland's most…