Welcome to Auld Reekie Retold, the biggest collections project ever undertaken by Museums & Galleries Edinburgh.
Our team is working through over 200,000 objects in stores across the City, checking records, photographing objects and researching the stories which bring the City’s collections to life. The aim of the project is to better understand these objects so that we can preserve them for the future and find new ways to interpret them, with and for you, the people of Edinburgh. The objects are connected with the whole group of the City’s museums, from the Museum of Childhood to Lauriston Castle. You can find out more about these venues here.
We will be posting regular project blogs and podcasts on these pages, aiming to share exciting object stories and give a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the work of our team. Keep checking back to see what we have discovered. Over the coming months, we will be hosting a range of interactive events online so that you can get involved with the collections, share your knowledge and add your family stories to their histories. You can find out about these events here.
We are showcasing some of the most exciting or unexpected discoveries on Capital Collections. You can visit the first Auld Reekie Retold online exhibition here.
Current Covid-19 restrictions mean that our team is working from home, sharing stories and organising events online. We will be hosting real-life exhibitions and events in the museum venues and stores as soon as it is safe to do so. We look forward to welcoming you.
Please follow us on social to hear the latest about the work we are doing and how to get involved:
Please tag us in your posts: #AuldReekieRetold
Black Lives Matter and Auld Reekie Retold
Museums and Galleries Edinburgh recognises our duty to re-examine the City’s collections, and how they are presented, so that we can stand up to racism. As such, we stand in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter. Auld Reekie Retold is an important opportunity for us to understand the origins of the collections and the way they have been catalogued. We will highlight the impact of Colonialism and seek to bring new perspectives and hidden stories to light. Future phases of this work will involve working with diverse communities across Edinburgh to record objects in new ways that better reflect today’s world.
What is Auld Reekie?
Auld Reekie is a nickname for Edinburgh. It’s a Scots phrase meaning “Old Smokey”, and refers to the thick smoke from coal fires in the Old Town tenements. There is no agreement about the first use of the nickname, but it seems Edinburgh was overcrowded, stinking and smoky from at least the 1600s. The early 18th century poets Allan Ramsay and Robert Fergusson both use the phrase, and Fergusson’s poem “Auld Reekie” in particular is a vivid, colourful depiction of a day in the life of the city.