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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 22/01/2024

First exhibition for new museum

Today, Perth Museum announces that Unicorn will be the first exhibition when the doors of the new museum open to the public on Saturday 30 March 2024, Easter Weekend. Tickets are now on sale.

Funded by £10 million UK Government investment through the Tay Cities Deal and by Perth and Kinross Council, Perth Museum is a £27 million transformation of the former City Hall.

Unicorn is the first major UK exhibition to explore the cultural history of Scotland’s national animal from antiquity to the present day. Through the material culture of this mythical beast the exhibition will explore themes such as Scottish Royalty and national symbolism that also relate to the objects and stories on display in the new permanent galleries, including the Stone of Destiny.

Tapestry fragment woven in wool and silk, depicting a unicorn, Flanders, ca.1500.© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Exploring the cultural history of Scotland's national animal

From Pliny to Pride, the unicorn has been an enduring yet enigmatic symbol throughout the ages; a component of medieval medicine, an emblem of Scottish royalty, a beloved children’s character, and icon of the LGBTQI+ community.

The exhibition will feature spectacular objects including manuscripts, illustrations, paintings, coins, sculpture, tapestry and shop signs.

Star loans include the magical ‘Danny Jewel’, an English Elizabethan pendant jewel of narwhal horn and enamelled gold, usually on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London.  

Alongside spectacular and historical loans from prestigious UK and international collections, there will also be objects and stories of personal significance from the local community. From ornaments and images to memorabilia and toys, the display will highlight the enduring power of the unicorn in contemporary culture. There is still time to submit an object for this project at Perth Art Gallery or one of the participating libraries across Perth & Kinross.

Pendant, 'The Danny Jewel', enamelled gold and a section of Narwhal's tusk, England, ca.1550. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

“The unicorn is an enduring symbol of Scotland’s enchanting history, culture and landscape, so it is fitting that Perth Museum has chosen this as the theme of its first exhibition.

“The UK Government has invested £10 million in Perth Museum as part of our £150 million support for the Tay Cities Region Deal. In total we are investing more than £2.9 billion to level up across Scotland.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland, Malcolm Offord

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