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Perth Museum: First look at opening weekend plans

The £27m Perth Museum is opening on March 30 and culture chiefs are promising a weekend to remember.

Exterior of Perth Museum.
The £27m Perth Museum is opening at the end of this month. Image: Culture Perth and Kinross

Plans have been revealed for Perth Museum’s opening weekend.

The £27 million attraction in the refurbished City Hall is due to open at the end of this month.

And the streets around the landmark will be alive with entertainment on March 30 and 31.

Organisers are putting the finishing touches to a programme of concerts, specially-commissioned songs and poetry, walking tours, workshops and activities for all ages.

The museum itself will be home to the Stone of Destiny, as well as standout items from Perth and Kinross’s own collections.

Entry to the permanent galleries will be free.

Neve Renwick dancing in front of new Perth museum
Crieff dancer Neve Renwick is among the local talent taking part in the Perth Museum opening weekend. Image: Culture Perth and Kinross

Entrance to the Stone of Destiny experience will require a free ticket. Details of how to book will be released soon.

And the debut exhibition, Unicorn, will explore the story of Scotland’s national animal. Tickets, costing £10/£8 concessions, can be booked here.

But there will be much, much more to see and do beyond the venue’s walls.

What’s on outside Perth Museum?

Mill Street Plaza will play host to Stories from Perth – free performances from popular local names and rising stars – on the Saturday and Sunday.

Comedian and historian Bruce Fummey has developed a new piece of work to tell the tale of James I, who was crowned on the Stone of Destiny in 1424.

Bruce Fummey taking a selfie next to a loch and mist mountainside
Bruce Fummey will present a fresh look at James I. Image; Bruce Fummey.

Crieff dancer Neve Renwick will perform another new piece celebrating Caputh’s Georgina Ballantine and her record-breaking salmon catch on the Tay in 1922.

The Craigie Choir will perform a newly-commissioned song, commemorating the march of 3,000 women towards Perth Prison in protest against the force-feeding of suffragettes.

Author Jess Smith, who lives near Comrie, will be telling the stories of Perth and Kinross gypsy travellers.

Poet and actor, Courtney Stoddart will present a new poem in praise of slavery reformer Frederick Douglass, who gave three speeches at Perth City Hall.

Georgina Ballantine standing next to enormous salmon
Georgina Ballantine’s record has never been broken. Image: Culture Perth and Kinross.

And a new piece of theatre by JD Henshaw will cast new light on Margaret Thatcher and Arthur Scargill, both of whom made visits to Perth at critical points in their careers.

Local talent and hands-on fun

The Highlight Spot in King Edward Street will give local talent a place to shine.

Ceilidh band Fiobha, Perth Concert Hall Voice, Perthshire Ukuleles, Inspire Dance Studios, Fair City Baton Twirlers, Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s Show Choir, True Gents and Tarneybackle will take the stage throughout the Saturday.

Sunday’s bill will feature the Dunkeld and Birnam Traditional Youth Music Group, Perth UHI Performers, the Kinfauns Dancers, Ad Lib Arts, Perth Strathspey and Reel Society and the Tay Ceilidh Band.

Jess SMith standing in front of Ben Chonzie.
Jess Smith will tell tales from a Travellers’ life. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson

Free workshops will be taking place in venues across the city.

Visitors will be able to try their hand at everything from embroidery and weaving to seaweed art and ‘make your own Maori instrument’.

Perth Art Gallery – where the museum collection was formerly based – will host a series of events throughout the weekend.

Visitors will be invited to contribute to a fabulous fluorescent unicorn, or enjoy sessions in heraldry, mythical beasts and hands-on Pictish and Jacobite history.

Tours of the city’s Jacobite and Medieval history will set off from Perth Museum throughout the weekend.

And many of the new museum’s partners will also be in the thick of it.

‘Brilliant city, talented people’

Perth Theatre and Concert Hall, Scone Palace, The Black Watch Castle
and Museum, Strathearn Arts in Crieff, and St John’s Kirk are all putting on special events.

A portrait of Charles Edward Stuart, aka Bonnie Prince Charlie, by Antonio David in 1732
Visitors will learn more about Bonnie Prince Charlie’s links to Perth.

These will include a celebration of Perthshire food and drink and Perth food tours setting off from the Perth Theatre Café.

And Scone Palace will present a whole weekend of family activities to mark the return of the Stone of Scone.

A museum spokesperson said the opening weekend would spotlight the best of Perth and Kinross.

“We’ve designed the opening weekend to celebrate the museum and all the stories it will tell, but also to shine a light on our brilliant city and the talented people who live and work in Perth and Kinross.

“There’s so much to do and see, and we’ve tried to make it free or low cost so that everyone can enjoy it.

“Programmes will be available soon across the whole area or you can log on to Perth City and Towns which will be updated next week with information.”

Perth Museum opening has been years in making

The opening of the new Perth Museum follows an eight-year renovation of the old Perth City Hall.

It became redundant as an events venue following the completion of Perth Concert Hall in 2005, and lay empty for more than a decade.

The Stone of Destiny in Westminster Abbey for King Charles III's coronation
The Stone of Destiny is returning to its historic home in Perth after its starring role in the Coronation of King Charles III. Image: Susannah Ireland/PA Wire

Plans for it to be demolished or repurposed were all abandoned, before the Perth Museum proposal surfaced in 2016.

Perth and Kinross Council has spent £17M on the redevelopment. Another £10M has come from the Tay Cities Deal.

However, there has been controversy over the museum cafe, with critics warning it will take trade away from existing businesses in Perth’s Cafe Quarter.

The museum is forecast to bring tens of thousands of visitors to Perth and Kinross.

Project leaders say it will boost the local economy by around £2.5 million a year.