Interview: Curator of Monkey Business, Andrew Kitchener
The National Museum of Scotland's new primate exhibition will be an interactive joy for kids and grown-ups alike
It may go by the name Monkey Business, but the new blockbuster exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland features a lot more than a display of chimps, gorillas and mandrills (spectacular as these taxidermied specimens are). Visitors will also see examples from the wider primate world, such as lemurs, bushbabies and lorises.
'Monkeys are very popular, mainly because we as humans are fascinated by the fact they're so close to us,' says Andrew Kitchener, Principal Curator of Vertebrates in the Museum's Department of Natural Science. 'While there will be familiar things such as the great apes, we'll also have less familiar animals that are part of the primate family.'
Although Monkey Business is definitely one for all the family, children will be particularly captivated by the hands-on, interactive elements: a jungle climb area where kids can swing like a primate; a display where you fish for termites like a chimpanzee; and digital interactives which allow you to design a primate or visit a 'monkey supermarket' to pick out food.
'There is a lot of touch-screen exploration,' says Kitchener, 'such as calls and language, and looking at how the teeth, jaw and guts adapt to different kinds of diet. You can also explore the relationship between different primates by constructing a family tree, and meet people working on primate conservation projects.'
Those features will be part of Monkey Business for the duration, but there are also be short-term attractions such as Monkey Make and Take (10 & 11 Dec) where kids can create a festive decoration inspired by the exhibition; Monkey Mischief (11–19 Feb), a 'primate party' with dance and movement workshops and mask-making; a special anatomy-themed Science Saturday (18 Feb); and a sensory workshop called Primate Playground (1–3 Apr), where you can learn how primates live and play.
National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, Wed 9 Dec–Sun 23 Apr.