Doors Open on The New Perth Museum

The buzz in Perthshire this weekend was around the new museum opening in Perth’s city centre.

This blog post takes you inside the new Perth Museum – and asks why not everyone is celebrating.

The Stone of Destiny

The museum’s centrepiece is the Stone of Destiny, which has finally come home to the region of Perthshire.

Building an attractive museum around ‘just’ a stone cannot be easy, but they’ve managed a good show.

The stone itself has a purpose-built exhibition space in the centre of the tall hall.

Once within, a clever immersive animation tells the stone’s history before the doors swing open for you to see it.

There’s an attractive collection of historic objects and displays all around it.

(More about the stone).

inside the new Perth museum logboat
3,000-year-old Carpow Logboat

Artists Commissioned to Share History in New Ways

The Museum Committee commissioned 6 artists to tell moments in local history in the form of large hanging banners: a smart way of not just bringing community stories with the walls but caring about them.

The results are superb. It’s worth spending time with them.

(The making of each artwork also involved a community outreach element, find out about Laura Darling’s Walk and Talk Events).

    inside the new Perth museum - laura darling's banner
    inside the new Perth museum - laura darling's banner close up
    Illustrator Laura Darling‘s Banner: The Burning of Strathearn

    Don’t Forget About Craft! 

    hooper art at Perth museum
    Cal Scott / Hooper Art broaches in the gift shop

    Perth/Perthshire is Remarkable for Craft

    I was glad to see a selection of local artists being represented in the museum shop, but I have concerns that Perth’s (and Perthshire’s) status as the UK’s only UNESCO City of Craft was under-celebrated.

    This new museum could make more celebration of how contemporary crafters are using traditional methods and materials in modern practices.

    It’s a rich, visual subject which could open the museum onto the region (and bring the region into the museum).

    (It is something we share on our English conversation holidays when we take you to Meet the Makers.)

    The Trojan Unicorn

    It’s safe to say the local community is not 100% in favour of this £27 million investment (which really does include a ‘Trojan unicorn’ called Destiny!).

    There has been grumbling across social media for months, listing the issues Perth (like most cities) is dealing with (rocketing rents, poor public transport, emptying high street, out-of-date swimming pool, underused potential as a port) and comparing how much of X,Y & Z the same money could buy.

    inside the new Perth museum - trojan unicorn
    Destiny the Trojan Unicorn with taxidermied birds

    Investing in Culture

    The city of Perth needs strategic investment, but throwing money at a failing high street doesn’t work in the long term (and unfairly benefits only a few commercial property owners).

    And it while it is true that overspending on a poor-quality museum would not work either, I have seen city economies transformed by investments like this new museum (our neighbouring city of Dundee in particular).

    They can be an egalitarian way of lifting a town’s economy.

    But they have to be good!

    The ‘Fair City’

    Attracting new visitors can benefit that same high street – and well beyond – particularly if the city is willing to mould to a new identity.

    But it’s not guaranteed.

    Cultural investments don’t work when they’re half-baked, poor quality, made without intelligent design, or lack infrastructure – or community goodwill.

    Invest in the right architects, curators and coordinate with city planners and the community – and you may have a viable and sustainable way of lifting a local economy.

    Surely it’s time to be delighted, to see where this new museum can take our ‘Fair City.’

    Gift Horse (Not Trojan Unicorn)


    I think that it’s fantastic that we’ve had this leap of faith put into our local city, and I was impressed by the visitor experience.

    It’s a great addition to Perth.

    However, with such a big part of the community grumbling about the cost to any visitors newly attracted to the city, I am concerned there are a few too many people who’d rather be proved right than be wrong in the mix.

    Whatever your initial objections, the new museum is here, it’s open and it’s everyone’s.

    Surely it’s time to be delighted, to see where this new museum can take our ‘Fair City’ (including high street transformation and better public transport links). 

    I’ll be promoting it and taking my holiday guests to explore the collection, for sure!

    Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

    Naysayers, haud yer wheeest and give it a fair chance, or it will fail.

    Perth Museum Visit

    How does this English conversation activity help your English / positively impact our community:


    ⭕ Great for mental/physical health

    🟠 benefits our local community.

    ✅ preserves craft skills, historic machinery, monuments etc.

    ⭕ supports Scottish industry/agriculture

    ✅ gets you talking with a rich and diverse selection of people, or about diverse subjects.

    🟠 supports arts & artists

    🟠 explores Scottish wildlife in non-invasive ways 

    ✅ a good introduction to Scottish culture

    🟠  financially contributes to preserving culture

    🟠 it is for fun and feeling good in English.