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New Stories of an Old City

The Auld Reekie Retold project was the biggest collections project ever undertaken by Museums & Galleries Edinburgh.

Between October 2019 and September 2022, our team worked through 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 was 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.

Explore some of the highlight object stories on Capital Collections, or you can can see the ongoing collections work we do at the Museum Collections Centre by booking on to one of our regular store tours.

Here are some key facts about the project.

13987 objects recorded

15054 object photographs taken

2125 stories found relating to 5600 objects

317 boxes repacked

26 blogs and 9 podcasts

Find out a little more about the project and the work we do at the Museum Collections Centre in this film, made for the Auld Reekie Retold exhibition.

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.

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