Blues musician B.B. King dies aged 89

Friday, May 15, 2015

B.B. King, legendary blues guitarist well known for tracks such as “Rock Me Baby”, “My Lucille”, and “The Thrill Is Gone”, died in his Las Vegas home yesterday at the age of 89.

Attorney Brent Bryson said King died in his sleep.

A 15-time Grammy winner, with over 50 albums released, King played live for nearly 70 years. He had reportedly collapsed at a Chicago performance back in October, and blamed dehydration and exhaustion for the incident. King recently was under hospice care at home, after being treated for diabetes and high blood pressure in hospital. The last public statement B.B King made, according to The Sydney Morning Herald, was early this month. He said, “I am in hospice care at my residence in Las Vegas. Thanks to all for your well wishes and prayers.”

Known for playing the blues on his Gibson guitar called Lucille, B.B King was admired by many musicians, including Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Otis Rush. The Blues Foundation Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame both inducted him in the 1980s; and the Songwriters Hall of Fame recognized him with a lifetime achievement award in 1990. King also collaborated with other music artists and bands. In 1989 he played with U2 on their track “When Love Comes to Town”, and in the millennium, worked with Eric Clapton on “Riding with the King”; which received a Grammy that same year.

Riley B King, who would eventually be called the King of Blues, grew up in Mississippi where he lived on a plantation as a sharecropper. He found success in the 50’s with hit track “Three O’Clock Blues”, and was well-known for not singing and playing guitar at the same time; a call and response between his vocals and his Lucille.

With the news of his death, many musicians payed their respects through Twitter. Guitarist Richie Sambora wrote, “My friend and legend BB King passed. I’m so so sad, he was so great to me. We’ve lost the King. My love and prayers to his family.” The Beatles’ Ringo Starr also wrote, “God bless BB King, peace and love to his family”.

PostHeaderIcon How To Choose The Best Home Care Agencies


Are you struggling to choose the best home care agencies? If so, there is no need for concern. It can help to get some tips and guidance about choosing from among the best home care agencies in your local area. There are some criteria to pinpoint which can guide you towards making the right decision for your senior’s home care needs. By taking the time and choosing carefully, you can be assured of selecting the very best out of the available home care agencies.

Cost is a factor to consider

One of the criteria to examine when choosing from the local home care agencies nearby is the cost. Cost is always a factor for those who have a budget for what they can and can’t spend on their loved one’s care. However it’s important to keep in mind that a lower cost doesn’t automatically mean a lower standard of care. This will allow you to choose the best of the available home care agencies that also offers the most competitive prices.

Agency staff training

When choosing from among the best home care agencies, it also helps to consider what type of training the agency staff has. If the agency staff does not have a lot of training, they may not provide the very best in care for your senior loved one. To find out, make certain to ask lots of questions about the staff’s credentials so you will have a good idea as to whether or not they are well trained and equipped to provide top notch care for your loved one as well.

Is Medicare or Medicaid accepted?

It helps to know whether or not Medicare or Medicaid is accepted by the nursing home. If your senior loved one is covered by any of these provisions, it is best to find a nursing home that will take this coverage so your loved one will be fully protected.

At The Regency Assisted Living, you can choose one of the best, local home care agencies for your loved one. Find out more when you visit them online today at You can connect with them on Facebook for more updates!

Interview with Usenet search sites targeted by the MPAA

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Last week, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) announced it had launched seven lawsuits against operators of websites it claims had been “facilitating the distribution of copyright works”.

In its announcement, the MPAA said it had commenced legal action against the following BitTorrent tracking sites:,, and, which are all owned by the same person;; as well as ed2k site and Usenet search engines,, and

Despite the announcement on its website and in the media, the MPAA has failed to notify the administrators of the sites involved directly. Joe from Binnews told Wikinews he only found out about the MPAA’s actions after reading it on several news sites. He said, “At first, I double read the article making sure we were not being punk’d. But then I was shocked that we had to read about it publicly first. As of today (February 25), we have yet to get anything (from the MPAA)”.

“Descds”, an administrator of told Wikinews that the first he knew of the action being taken against the site was when he was approached by the press and users of his site. He said, “We haven’t been informed by the MPAA and quite frankly are outraged by the method they have adopted to file these lawsuits. In actual fact we would still be none the wiser had our members and members of the press not have contacted us.”

“When we found out about the filed lawsuit we was first worried (after all we are only a small site with limited funds), then shocked and finally outraged. Had the MPAA contacted us anytime in the sites history regards their concerns we would have happily worked with them to gain a resolve,” he said.

Descds also said that despite attempts to contact the MPAA he has received no response.

When asked by Wikinews how they felt about discovering the MPAA’s lawsuits both administrators said they would have appreciated being notified before the announcement was made public.

Binnews told Wikinews, “We do feel they should have notified first. We do not even have a confirmation this is for real.”

Dvdrs said, “We have stated many times had the MPAA personally contacted us we would have happily listened to their issues and acted accordingly. We are doing nothing wrong legally on our site and to be made look like an established piracy ring is an outrage. We have worked extremely hard on site to keep within international laws and they have publicly destroyed everything we have worked towards in the last two years. We are receiving negative PR and this is totally unacceptable.”

Wikinews has discovered that both Binnews and have procedures in place for dealing with alleged copyright infringement under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Despite this, both sites deny ever being contacted by any organisation with a “takedown” notice.

When asked if Binnews ever received a takedown notice, Binnews replied, “Nope, we have never received a notice from anyone. My cell phone is tied to the site, we have proper DMCA guidelines on the site and no one has contacted us.”

When asked the same question, Dvdrs said, “No never. We would actively respond to any DMCA request quickly and efficiently. We fully support the law and would never try to evade anything within its scope. Had a DMCA been issued by any member, our site would have immediately deleted the offensive file.”

When asked how they would deal with a DMCA takedown notice, Binnews said, “We would act quite quickly. An email sent to the alert system is tied into all of “staff” members, my cell phone and my email.”

According to Dvdrs, they would be equally as compliant. “We would immediately delete the offending file on our server and conduct a thorough research into any files that may also be connected to the one mentioned. We would also respond to the request personally with a follow up email expressing our actions,” they said.

Wikinews asked the administrators if they thought their sites were any different to conventional search engines like Google and Yahoo. Binnews replied, “No, you can go to any search engine and find just about anything.”

Dvdrs also shares Binnews’ position telling Wikinews, “No. We index what is already readily available on commercial, tax paying, US based registered companies hard drives. All we are doing is pointing to files not on our network, much the same way google or any search bot operates. We do not host these files and without the premium paid service of third parties our marked up text based XML files are useless. We have never hosted illegal files and only offer information.”

Dvdrs has expressed that if the MPAA deems them illegal they should also target those who are actually hosting the files. Descds said, “We feel that should the MPAA deem us illegal then they must also target premium paid Usenet Providers who act as the transit for these files. Ironically both Easynews and Usenetserver offer both indexing and carrier for these files and yet have received no such lawsuits filed.”

“We also find it ironic still that Newzbin, creators, instigators and promoters of the NZB format and un-arguably the biggest Usenet Indexing site in the world have received no lawsuits filed. We feel that we are being rail roaded and are not at all happy about it.”

On the other hand, Binnews was surprised that the MPAA did not target ISPs and Usenet providers in the first instance. “Cut the head off and there is nothing for us to index and report on. If the ISPs acted in a proper manner and did what they are more than capable of, we would not be assisting people in combating piracy on their networks,” they said.

Despite being outraged with the MPAA and its actions, Descds said that despite being outside of US juristiction he is happy to assist the MPAA in anyway necessary. “We would like it known for the record that we are actively trying to reach a resolve regards this action by the MPAA. We have contacted them and said openly many times we would welcome their input and act accordingly. Should they feel that NZBS are illegal we will remove those sections immediately and await a legal judgement on their legality. DVDRS is not a pirate network and to call us such has insulted our member base.”

“I would also like it noted that although we host in the US i am actually a UK citizen who currently does not have to adhere to their communications and judgements. However, such is our resolve that I would happily comply should communication between us take place. We can offer little more to help this but hope that the MPAA retract their statement that we are an organised pirate network and restore our good name. Should the MPAA decide to not communicate with us and continue their legal actions we will instruct our attorneys and contact legal bodies like the EFF for help on this matter,” he added.

Binnews also had this to say of the MPAA’s lawsuit: “Binnews does not host any files, the claim that we read “ offers files for over 3,000 movies” is 100% completely false. We do not host any files, never have and never will. We provide a legitimate service to copyright holders. No where on our site does it say, “join us, we can give you free movies.” We do not even have pre-made nzb files.”

PostHeaderIcon Discount Bed And Breakfast In Bedfordshire}

Discount Bed and Breakfast in Bedfordshire


Cheap Hotels in Bedfordshire

Bedfordshire Hotels

An exciting and vibrant city, Bedfordshire is a wonderful place to enjoy a diverse and fascinating vacation. You can enjoy everything from a tour of the Bromham Mill and Gallery, Moot Hall, Swiss Garden to an array of Bedford museums, excellent shopping, great nightlife, and a vast array of attractions and sights. Rich in history and culture, Bedfordshire is a place that has something for everyone.This city enjoys a wonderful, vibrant atmosphere, and also offers a great range of facilities and services. If you are looking for affordable lodgings, cheap hotel accommodations, bed and breakfasts or discount budget hotels, you will find both in plenty. You can also look forward to trying an array of exotic cuisines, from international dishes, traditional English menus, and continental dishes with an excellent choice of fast food, casual, and fine dining establishments to select from.We are close to many popular and famous attractions and have the best local transportation in Bedfordshire. The nearest train station () is just a couple of miles form our hotel. We run a reasonably priced family Bed and Breakfast that can offer you cheap hotel accommodations in Bedfordshire together with clean and cozy rooms. Our main objective throughout our long experience has been to provide all guests the best possible service ever.Whether you are on business, on a family holiday, or just in Bedfordshire for the weekend, accommodation our Hotels will always be suitable for all kinds of travelers.We welcome our guests to an enriched environment that would give you the homely feeling. Our rooms are spacious private realms of relaxation. We offer cheap hotel accommodations where your hospitality needs would be appreciative. We look after your comfort needs and excel at providing excellent quality service.For further information visit the site:Cheap Hotels in BedfordshireDiscount Bed and Breakfast in Bedfordshire

Article Source:

Discount Bed and Breakfast in Bedfordshire

YouTube Preview Image


Cleveland, Ohio clinic performs US’s first face transplant

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A team of eight transplant surgeons in Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, USA, led by reconstructive surgeon Dr. Maria Siemionow, age 58, have successfully performed the first almost total face transplant in the US, and the fourth globally, on a woman so horribly disfigured due to trauma, that cost her an eye. Two weeks ago Dr. Siemionow, in a 23-hour marathon surgery, replaced 80 percent of her face, by transplanting or grafting bone, nerve, blood vessels, muscles and skin harvested from a female donor’s cadaver.

The Clinic surgeons, in Wednesday’s news conference, described the details of the transplant but upon request, the team did not publish her name, age and cause of injury nor the donor’s identity. The patient’s family desired the reason for her transplant to remain confidential. The Los Angeles Times reported that the patient “had no upper jaw, nose, cheeks or lower eyelids and was unable to eat, talk, smile, smell or breathe on her own.” The clinic’s dermatology and plastic surgery chair, Francis Papay, described the nine hours phase of the procedure: “We transferred the skin, all the facial muscles in the upper face and mid-face, the upper lip, all of the nose, most of the sinuses around the nose, the upper jaw including the teeth, the facial nerve.” Thereafter, another team spent three hours sewing the woman’s blood vessels to that of the donor’s face to restore blood circulation, making the graft a success.

The New York Times reported that “three partial face transplants have been performed since 2005, two in France and one in China, all using facial tissue from a dead donor with permission from their families.” “Only the forehead, upper eyelids, lower lip, lower teeth and jaw are hers, the rest of her face comes from a cadaver; she could not eat on her own or breathe without a hole in her windpipe. About 77 square inches of tissue were transplanted from the donor,” it further described the details of the medical marvel. The patient, however, must take lifetime immunosuppressive drugs, also called antirejection drugs, which do not guarantee success. The transplant team said that in case of failure, it would replace the part with a skin graft taken from her own body.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital surgeon praised the recent medical development. “There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Leading bioethicist Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania withheld judgment on the Cleveland transplant amid grave concerns on the post-operation results. “The biggest ethical problem is dealing with failure — if your face rejects. It would be a living hell. If your face is falling off and you can’t eat and you can’t breathe and you’re suffering in a terrible manner that can’t be reversed, you need to put on the table assistance in dying. There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Dr Alex Clarke, of the Royal Free Hospital had praised the Clinic for its contribution to medicine. “It is a real step forward for people who have severe disfigurement and this operation has been done by a team who have really prepared and worked towards this for a number of years. These transplants have proven that the technical difficulties can be overcome and psychologically the patients are doing well. They have all have reacted positively and have begun to do things they were not able to before. All the things people thought were barriers to this kind of operations have been overcome,” she said.

The first partial face transplant surgery on a living human was performed on Isabelle Dinoire on November 27 2005, when she was 38, by Professor Bernard Devauchelle, assisted by Professor Jean-Michel Dubernard in Amiens, France. Her Labrador dog mauled her in May 2005. A triangle of face tissue including the nose and mouth was taken from a brain-dead female donor and grafted onto the patient. Scientists elsewhere have performed scalp and ear transplants. However, the claim is the first for a mouth and nose transplant. Experts say the mouth and nose are the most difficult parts of the face to transplant.

In 2004, the same Cleveland Clinic, became the first institution to approve this surgery and test it on cadavers. In October 2006, surgeon Peter Butler at London‘s Royal Free Hospital in the UK was given permission by the NHS ethics board to carry out a full face transplant. His team will select four adult patients (children cannot be selected due to concerns over consent), with operations being carried out at six month intervals. In March 2008, the treatment of 30-year-old neurofibromatosis victim Pascal Coler of France ended after having received what his doctors call the worlds first successful full face transplant.

Ethical concerns, psychological impact, problems relating to immunosuppression and consequences of technical failure have prevented teams from performing face transplant operations in the past, even though it has been technically possible to carry out such procedures for years.

Mr Iain Hutchison, of Barts and the London Hospital, warned of several problems with face transplants, such as blood vessels in the donated tissue clotting and immunosuppressants failing or increasing the patient’s risk of cancer. He also pointed out ethical issues with the fact that the procedure requires a “beating heart donor”. The transplant is carried out while the donor is brain dead, but still alive by use of a ventilator.

According to Stephen Wigmore, chair of British Transplantation Society’s ethics committee, it is unknown to what extent facial expressions will function in the long term. He said that it is not certain whether a patient could be left worse off in the case of a face transplant failing.

Mr Michael Earley, a member of the Royal College of Surgeon‘s facial transplantation working party, commented that if successful, the transplant would be “a major breakthrough in facial reconstruction” and “a major step forward for the facially disfigured.”

In Wednesday’s conference, Siemionow said “we know that there are so many patients there in their homes where they are hiding from society because they are afraid to walk to the grocery stores, they are afraid to go the the street.” “Our patient was called names and was humiliated. We very much hope that for this very special group of patients there is a hope that someday they will be able to go comfortably from their houses and enjoy the things we take for granted,” she added.

In response to the medical breakthrough, a British medical group led by Royal Free Hospital’s lead surgeon Dr Peter Butler, said they will finish the world’s first full face transplant within a year. “We hope to make an announcement about a full-face operation in the next 12 months. This latest operation shows how facial transplantation can help a particular group of the most severely facially injured people. These are people who would otherwise live a terrible twilight life, shut away from public gaze,” he said.

News briefs:June 10, 2010

Wikinews Audio Briefs Credits
Produced By
Recorded By
Written By
Listen To This Brief

Problems? See our media guide.


20,000 South Koreans take to the streets to protest APEC

Sunday, November 13, 2005

This article is part of the seriesAsia-Pacific Economic Cooperation 2005

Complete Coverage

  • World Trade, Bird Flu to be discussed at 2005 APEC
  • More from APEC: EU not backing down
  • 20,000 South Koreans take to the streets to protest APEC
  • Farmers clash amidst high security at APEC summit in Sth Korea

20,000 labour activists in South Korea joined a union-organised protest in the streets of downtown Seoul on Sunday to express opposition to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum currently underway in the southeastern port city of Busan.

The APEC summit of Pacific Rim leaders will include US President George W. Bush. The two-day APEC summit, expected to bring together 21 regional leaders, opens officially on November 18 in the South Korean port city of Busan. The APEC agenda includes discussions on how to enhance global free trade.

Protesters’ placards declared “No Bush visit” and “No APEC”, demanding a revision of domestic labour laws to improve conditions for temporary workers. Police lined the protest route, using buses to block streets as protesters marched close to the US embassy and the presidential Blue House. City police officials said there were no reports of violence.

The rally was organised by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), the second-largest labour organisation in South Korea.

“APEC is playing the vanguard role of spreading new liberalism in trade which makes the rich richer and the poor poorer,” said O Jong-Ryul, head of the People’s Action against APEC — another of the protest organising groups. The activists said APEC had become a tool for US multinationals seeking to expand their dominance in the world market “under the pretext of trade liberalization.”

The rally was held after the death of a South Korean farmer, who allegedly committed suicide on Friday morning to protest the free trade and opening of the South Korean agricultural market.

The rally cut off downtown traffic and caused severe congestion. No serious crashes were reported.

Some 80 protest leaders said they would organize regular street rallies throughout the week of APEC meetings. The KCTU intend to hold another rally in Busan on Thursday, in opposition to further trade liberalization and investment regulations.

Activists hope to bring 100,000 protestors into the streets to oppose the summit. They call on the government to provide all citizens with access to free medical care and education and to address the problem ofincreasing South Korean wealth disparity.

“We will fight aggressively at the national rally on November 18 against the Busan APEC Summit and open Busan International People Forum by gathering all Korean progressives including workers, farmers and students,” said a KCTU spokesperson.

Busan police said the rally would not disturb the meeting. “The police will also increase the number of personnel from some 7,000 to 22,000 and station more armored cars to prevent any violent protests,” an official said.

A spokesman for the port city of Busan, Steve Tang, said 37,000 officers from South Korea’s national intelligence service, police, military, fire service, coast guard and customs were on high alert for APEC.

The National Police Agency has banned nearly 1000 foreign activists from entering the country before the APEC summit, and is closely monitoring 350 activists. Further measures include a no-fly and no-vessel zone within a 7km radius of the APEC venue retreat.

The city’s police, have been on emergency duty since October 19.

PostHeaderIcon Wood Choices For Your Kitchen Cabinets

byAlma Abell

When the time has come for a kitchen renovation or upgrade, an easy way to create an entirely new look and feel to space is changing the material used in the cabinets. Many popular kinds of woods are available and commonly used on wood cabinet constructions, and each one delivers its own unique feel and vibe and flare. Here are a few key points that help you choose the wood cabinet material you would want to use on your kitchen cabinetry in Pittsburg homes or apartments:


YouTube Preview Image

This is a hard and very durable wood which make sit great for holding up to the wear and tear of kitchen life. Maple offers softer texture and grain patterns that can be found in a fairly wide variety of colors including whites, reds, and browns.


Cabinets of Cherry wood often have deep rich colors and beautifully stunning grain patterns. These are cabinets that offer a beautiful accent point to any kitchen décor, and one unique factor for this type of wood is it holds its color well and is low maintenance compared to other woods.


Birch has long been a popular wood choice for a variety of furniture pieces because of its unique color and grain patter. Many new kitchen constructions and modern kitchen renovations use Birch wood for the cabinets and even the counter tops.


With a bold grain pattern, dark contrasting colors in the grain and a more rugged grain pattern, oak is by far the common wood for cabinet construction. As one of the hardest of the hardwoods oak is durable, and many find the array of red and brown hues to be very beautiful.

For expert help with choosing the wood for your kitchen cabinetry in Pittsburgh, contact Patete Kitchen & Bath Design Center today and let them put their years of experience to work for you!

Astronomers find changes in Saturn’s rings

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Astronomers have discovered that Saturn’s D ring, the innermost of Saturn’s 15 rings, has grown dimmer in the past 25 years and sections have moved up to 125 miles inward toward the planet. This discovery was made after astronomers compiled results predominantly from the Voyager 2 spacecraft, which passed Saturn in 1981, and the Cassini-Huygens probe which entered Saturn’s orbit last year.

Other rings were found to be rotating slower than had previously been estimated with computer models. It was also discovered that the matter composing the rings is of far more widely varying temperatures than had been expected. Sections of Saturn’s F ring were also recognised as breaking apart and reforming, depending on the location of one of Saturn’s moons.

The rings, which are now iconic to Saturn, and known to be common to all Jovian planets in general, were first observed in 1610 by Galileo. The rings have recently become a subject of scientific interest to modern astronomers who believe they are similar in structure to the dust which orbited the Sun, in a similar pattern, and formed the planets some 4.5 billion years ago.

This, and other Cassini-related discoveries, were discussed at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society‘s division of planetary sciences on Monday.

National Museum of Scotland reopens after three-year redevelopment

Friday, July 29, 2011

Today sees the reopening of the National Museum of Scotland following a three-year renovation costing £47.4 million (US$ 77.3 million). Edinburgh’s Chambers Street was closed to traffic for the morning, with the 10am reopening by eleven-year-old Bryony Hare, who took her first steps in the museum, and won a competition organised by the local Evening News paper to be a VIP guest at the event. Prior to the opening, Wikinews toured the renovated museum, viewing the new galleries, and some of the 8,000 objects inside.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12

Dressed in Victorian attire, Scottish broadcaster Grant Stott acted as master of ceremonies over festivities starting shortly after 9am. The packed street cheered an animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex created by Millenium FX; onlookers were entertained with a twenty-minute performance by the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers on the steps of the museum; then, following Bryony Hare knocking three times on the original doors to ask that the museum be opened, the ceremony was heralded with a specially composed fanfare – played on a replica of the museum’s 2,000-year-old carnyx Celtic war-horn. During the fanfare, two abseilers unfurled white pennons down either side of the original entrance.

The completion of the opening to the public was marked with Chinese firecrackers, and fireworks, being set off on the museum roof. As the public crowded into the museum, the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers resumed their performance; a street theatre group mingled with the large crowd, and the animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex entertained the thinning crowd of onlookers in the centre of the street.

On Wednesday, the museum welcomed the world’s press for an in depth preview of the new visitor experience. Wikinews was represented by Brian McNeil, who is also Wikimedia UK’s interim liaison with Museum Galleries Scotland.

The new pavement-level Entrance Hall saw journalists mingle with curators. The director, Gordon Rintoul, introduced presentations by Gareth Hoskins and Ralph Applebaum, respective heads of the Architects and Building Design Team; and, the designers responsible for the rejuvenation of the museum.

Describing himself as a “local lad”, Hoskins reminisced about his grandfather regularly bringing him to the museum, and pushing all the buttons on the numerous interactive exhibits throughout the museum. Describing the nearly 150-year-old museum as having become “a little tired”, and a place “only visited on a rainy day”, he commented that many international visitors to Edinburgh did not realise that the building was a public space; explaining the focus was to improve access to the museum – hence the opening of street-level access – and, to “transform the complex”, focus on “opening up the building”, and “creating a number of new spaces […] that would improve facilities and really make this an experience for 21st century museum visitors”.

Hoskins explained that a “rabbit warren” of storage spaces were cleared out to provide street-level access to the museum; the floor in this “crypt-like” space being lowered by 1.5 metres to achieve this goal. Then Hoskins handed over to Applebaum, who expressed his delight to be present at the reopening.

Applebaum commented that one of his first encounters with the museum was seeing “struggling young mothers with two kids in strollers making their way up the steps”, expressing his pleasure at this being made a thing of the past. Applebaum explained that the Victorian age saw the opening of museums for public access, with the National Museum’s earlier incarnation being the “College Museum” – a “first window into this museum’s collection”.

Have you any photos of the museum, or its exhibits?

The museum itself is physically connected to the University of Edinburgh’s old college via a bridge which allowed students to move between the two buildings.

Applebaum explained that the museum will, now redeveloped, be used as a social space, with gatherings held in the Grand Gallery, “turning the museum into a social convening space mixed with knowledge”. Continuing, he praised the collections, saying they are “cultural assets [… Scotland is] turning those into real cultural capital”, and the museum is, and museums in general are, providing a sense of “social pride”.

McNeil joined the yellow group on a guided tour round the museum with one of the staff. Climbing the stairs at the rear of the Entrance Hall, the foot of the Window on the World exhibit, the group gained a first chance to see the restored Grand Gallery. This space is flooded with light from the glass ceiling three floors above, supported by 40 cast-iron columns. As may disappoint some visitors, the fish ponds have been removed; these were not an original feature, but originally installed in the 1960s – supposedly to humidify the museum; and failing in this regard. But, several curators joked that they attracted attention as “the only thing that moved” in the museum.

The museum’s original architect was Captain Francis Fowke, also responsible for the design of London’s Royal Albert Hall; his design for the then-Industrial Museum apparently inspired by Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace.

The group moved from the Grand Gallery into the Discoveries Gallery to the south side of the museum. The old red staircase is gone, and the Millennium Clock stands to the right of a newly-installed escalator, giving easier access to the upper galleries than the original staircases at each end of the Grand Gallery. Two glass elevators have also been installed, flanking the opening into the Discoveries Gallery and, providing disabled access from top-to-bottom of the museum.

The National Museum of Scotland’s origins can be traced back to 1780 when the 11th Earl of Buchan, David Stuart Erskine, formed the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland; the Society being tasked with the collection and preservation of archaeological artefacts for Scotland. In 1858, control of this was passed to the government of the day and the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland came into being. Items in the collection at that time were housed at various locations around the city.

On Wednesday, October 28, 1861, during a royal visit to Edinburgh by Queen Victoria, Prince-Consort Albert laid the foundation-stone for what was then intended to be the Industrial Museum. Nearly five years later, it was the second son of Victoria and Albert, Prince Alfred, the then-Duke of Edinburgh, who opened the building which was then known as the Scottish Museum of Science and Art. A full-page feature, published in the following Monday’s issue of The Scotsman covered the history leading up to the opening of the museum, those who had championed its establishment, the building of the collection which it was to house, and Edinburgh University’s donation of their Natural History collection to augment the exhibits put on public display.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Selection of views of the Grand Gallery Image: Brian McNeil.

Selection of views of the Grand Gallery Image: Brian McNeil.

Selection of views of the Grand Gallery Image: Brian McNeil.

Closed for a little over three years, today’s reopening of the museum is seen as the “centrepiece” of National Museums Scotland’s fifteen-year plan to dramatically improve accessibility and better present their collections. Sir Andrew Grossard, chair of the Board of Trustees, said: “The reopening of the National Museum of Scotland, on time and within budget is a tremendous achievement […] Our collections tell great stories about the world, how Scots saw that world, and the disproportionate impact they had upon it. The intellectual and collecting impact of the Scottish diaspora has been profound. It is an inspiring story which has captured the imagination of our many supporters who have helped us achieve our aspirations and to whom we are profoundly grateful.

The extensive work, carried out with a view to expand publicly accessible space and display more of the museums collections, carried a £47.4 million pricetag. This was jointly funded with £16 million from the Scottish Government, and £17.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Further funds towards the work came from private sources and totalled £13.6 million. Subsequent development, as part of the longer-term £70 million “Masterplan”, is expected to be completed by 2020 and see an additional eleven galleries opened.

The funding by the Scottish Government can be seen as a ‘canny‘ investment; a report commissioned by National Museums Scotland, and produced by consultancy firm Biggar Economics, suggest the work carried out could be worth £58.1 million per year, compared with an estimated value to the economy of £48.8 prior to the 2008 closure. Visitor figures are expected to rise by over 20%; use of function facilities are predicted to increase, alongside other increases in local hospitality-sector spending.

Proudly commenting on the Scottish Government’s involvement Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, described the reopening as, “one of the nation’s cultural highlights of 2011” and says the rejuvenated museum is, “[a] must-see attraction for local and international visitors alike“. Continuing to extol the museum’s virtues, Hyslop states that it “promotes the best of Scotland and our contributions to the world.

So-far, the work carried out is estimated to have increased the public space within the museum complex by 50%. Street-level storage rooms, never before seen by the public, have been transformed into new exhibit space, and pavement-level access to the buildings provided which include a new set of visitor facilities. Architectural firm Gareth Hoskins have retained the original Grand Gallery – now the first floor of the museum – described as a “birdcage” structure and originally inspired by The Crystal Palace built in Hyde Park, London for the 1851 Great Exhibition.

The centrepiece in the Grand Gallery is the “Window on the World” exhibit, which stands around 20 metres tall and is currently one of the largest installations in any UK museum. This showcases numerous items from the museum’s collections, rising through four storeys in the centre of the museum. Alexander Hayward, the museums Keeper of Science and Technology, challenged attending journalists to imagine installing “teapots at thirty feet”.

The redeveloped museum includes the opening of sixteen brand new galleries. Housed within, are over 8,000 objects, only 20% of which have been previously seen.

  • Ground floor
  • First floor
  • Second floor
  • Top floor

The Window on the World rises through the four floors of the museum and contains over 800 objects. This includes a gyrocopter from the 1930s, the world’s largest scrimshaw – made from the jaws of a sperm whale which the University of Edinburgh requested for their collection, a number of Buddha figures, spearheads, antique tools, an old gramophone and record, a selection of old local signage, and a girder from the doomed Tay Bridge.

The arrangement of galleries around the Grand Gallery’s “birdcage” structure is organised into themes across multiple floors. The World Cultures Galleries allow visitors to explore the culture of the entire planet; Living Lands explains the ways in which our natural environment influences the way we live our lives, and the beliefs that grow out of the places we live – from the Arctic cold of North America to Australia’s deserts.

The adjacent Patterns of Life gallery shows objects ranging from the everyday, to the unusual from all over the world. The functions different objects serve at different periods in peoples’ lives are explored, and complement the contents of the Living Lands gallery.

Performance & Lives houses musical instruments from around the world, alongside masks and costumes; both rooted in long-established traditions and rituals, this displayed alongside contemporary items showing the interpretation of tradition by contemporary artists and instrument-creators.

The museum proudly bills the Facing the Sea gallery as the only one in the UK which is specifically based on the cultures of the South Pacific. It explores the rich diversity of the communities in the region, how the sea shapes the islanders’ lives – describing how their lives are shaped as much by the sea as the land.

Both the Facing the Sea and Performance & Lives galleries are on the second floor, next to the new exhibition shop and foyer which leads to one of the new exhibition galleries, expected to house the visiting Amazing Mummies exhibit in February, coming from Leiden in the Netherlands.

The Inspired by Nature, Artistic Legacies, and Traditions in Sculpture galleries take up most of the east side of the upper floor of the museum. The latter of these shows the sculptors from diverse cultures have, through history, explored the possibilities in expressing oneself using metal, wood, or stone. The Inspired by Nature gallery shows how many artists, including contemporary ones, draw their influence from the world around us – often commenting on our own human impact on that natural world.

Contrastingly, the Artistic Legacies gallery compares more traditional art and the work of modern artists. The displayed exhibits attempt to show how people, in creating specific art objects, attempt to illustrate the human spirit, the cultures they are familiar with, and the imaginative input of the objects’ creators.

The easternmost side of the museum, adjacent to Edinburgh University’s Old College, will bring back memories for many regular visitors to the museum; but, with an extensive array of new items. The museum’s dedicated taxidermy staff have produced a wide variety of fresh examples from the natural world.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

At ground level, the Animal World and Wildlife Panorama’s most imposing exhibit is probably the lifesize reproduction of a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. This rubs shoulders with other examples from around the world, including one of a pair of elephants. The on-display elephant could not be removed whilst renovation work was underway, and lurked in a corner of the gallery as work went on around it.

Above, in the Animal Senses gallery, are examples of how we experience the world through our senses, and contrasting examples of wildly differing senses, or extremes of such, present in the natural world. This gallery also has giant screens, suspended in the free space, which show footage ranging from the most tranquil and peaceful life in the sea to the tooth-and-claw bloody savagery of nature.

The Survival gallery gives visitors a look into the ever-ongoing nature of evolution; the causes of some species dying out while others thrive, and the ability of any species to adapt as a method of avoiding extinction.

Earth in Space puts our place in the universe in perspective. Housing Europe’s oldest surviving Astrolabe, dating from the eleventh century, this gallery gives an opportunity to see the technology invented to allow us to look into the big questions about what lies beyond Earth, and probe the origins of the universe and life.

In contrast, the Restless Earth gallery shows examples of the rocks and minerals formed through geological processes here on earth. The continual processes of the planet are explored alongside their impact on human life. An impressive collection of geological specimens are complemented with educational multimedia presentations.

Beyond working on new galleries, and the main redevelopment, the transformation team have revamped galleries that will be familiar to regular past visitors to the museum.

Formerly known as the Ivy Wu Gallery of East Asian Art, the Looking East gallery showcases National Museums Scotland’s extensive collection of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese material. The gallery’s creation was originally sponsored by Sir Gordon Wu, and named after his wife Ivy. It contains items from the last dynasty, the Manchu, and examples of traditional ceramic work. Japan is represented through artefacts from ordinary people’s lives, expositions on the role of the Samurai, and early trade with the West. Korean objects also show the country’s ceramic work, clothing, and traditional accessories used, and worn, by the indigenous people.

The Ancient Egypt gallery has always been a favourite of visitors to the museum. A great many of the exhibits in this space were returned to Scotland from late 19th century excavations; and, are arranged to take visitors through the rituals, and objects associated with, life, death, and the afterlife, as viewed from an Egyptian perspective.

The Art and Industry and European Styles galleries, respectively, show how designs are arrived at and turned into manufactured objects, and the evolution of European style – financed and sponsored by a wide range of artists and patrons. A large number of the objects on display, often purchased or commissioned, by Scots, are now on display for the first time ever.

Shaping our World encourages visitors to take a fresh look at technological objects developed over the last 200 years, many of which are so integrated into our lives that they are taken for granted. Radio, transportation, and modern medicines are covered, with a retrospective on the people who developed many of the items we rely on daily.

What was known as the Museum of Scotland, a modern addition to the classical Victorian-era museum, is now known as the Scottish Galleries following the renovation of the main building.

This dedicated newer wing to the now-integrated National Museum of Scotland covers the history of Scotland from a time before there were people living in the country. The geological timescale is covered in the Beginnings gallery, showing continents arranging themselves into what people today see as familiar outlines on modern-day maps.

Just next door, the history of the earliest occupants of Scotland are on display; hunters and gatherers from around 4,000 B.C give way to farmers in the Early People exhibits.

The Kingdom of the Scots follows Scotland becoming a recognisable nation, and a kingdom ruled over by the Stewart dynasty. Moving closer to modern-times, the Scotland Transformed gallery looks at the country’s history post-union in 1707.

Industry and Empire showcases Scotland’s significant place in the world as a source of heavy engineering work in the form of rail engineering and shipbuilding – key components in the building of the British Empire. Naturally, whisky was another globally-recognised export introduced to the world during empire-building.

Lastly, Scotland: A Changing Nation collects less-tangible items, including personal accounts, from the country’s journey through the 20th century; the social history of Scots, and progress towards being a multicultural nation, is explored through heavy use of multimedia exhibits.