The National Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street in Edinburgh puts on some truly wonderful temporary exhibitions that supplement and expand upon its magnificent permanent galleries. It has developed a habit of producing superb books about the subjects of some of those temporary exhibitions, and this is one of them.
This is the souvenir book of the exhibition "Wild and Majestic: Romantic Visions of Scotland", which is on at the National Museum of Scotland from 26 June 2019 to 10 November 2019. As the publishers say: "In the era of the European Romantic movement of the 18th and 19th centuries, Scotland became the subject of international fascination. Using material evidence, the exhibition - and the book - traces Scotland's journey into the global imagination, and show how, by the end of Queen Victoria's reign, a particular version of the cultural traditions of the highlands and islands had become fixed as a badge of wider Scottish identity. The romantic visions of Scotland that took shape during this period have always been questioned. The stories of objects, costume, art, literature and music highlighted in both the exhibition and the book can tell us a great deal about the relationship between Scotland, romance and reality."
We have yet to visit the exhibition, but will certainly be doing so. This review therefore looks at the souvenir book on its own merits. What you get is a beautifully produced and magnificently illustrated book that we can see proving very popular with visitors to the exhibition. But it is also a book that tells its story very well indeed. There is far more here than a collection of outstanding illustrations; and the background to the topics covered in the exhibition is set out in an attractive and accessible form. We were particularly struck by the inserted "Gaelic Voices" segments. These comprise facing pages with English text about self-contained elements of the story on one side, and the same text in Gaelic opposite it: a welcome reminder that there are very different ways of looking at the story of Scotland.