Miller Re-told on Hold
Friends to submit revised proposals
By Martin Gostwick, 2020
REFURBISHMENT of Miller House and the Birthplace Cottage, on the theme of 'MILLER RE-TOLD', is now expected not to proceed until 2022/23 at the earliest, property manager Dr Alix Powers-Jones has reported.
She said a sum has been allocated in its spending budget for 2021/22 to develop proposals for a design brief which could be awarded the following year.
Meanwhile The Friends of Hugh Miller will be revising a set of detailed proposals for both the Cottage and the Museum which will be submitted when agreed by the membership to the National Trust for Scotland (NTS).
The Friends of Hugh Miller was informed at a meeting in Spring 2020 that the Middleton Fund could provide the necessary funding.
Among the four main categories which Dr Powers-Jones has identified for enhancement, are: Miller's life and work; the natural world; the Victorian cultural world and communications. Ideas which have been put forward include discovery boxes, temporary display boards, wall projections and other atmosphere-creating features. She is particularly keen that the Museum and Cottage should develop to be not just a tourist attraction but a facility for community benefit, especially for those with physical or mental impairments.
Miller Retold (Background)
Climbing the Steps Once More
by Martin Gostwick, 2020
The most important development at Miller House is under way since The National Trust for Scotland opened the building as a Museum to the general public on 10th April 2004. It is a refurbishment project led by the Trust to update some displays and installations, and to introduce new, improved content, all under the working title "Miller Re-told."
This was announced at The Friends' AGM by property manager Dr Alix Powers-Jones as part of the consultation process she has initiated in preparation for the refurbishment. She indicated that among the principal reasons for undertaking this venture is that the existing presentation of exhibits has become outdated, and this has placed the Museum's enviable VisitScotland grading as a 5-Star Visitor Attraction in jeopardy.
Those of us who participated in the Museum's creation 15 years ago, and the tens of thousands of visitors who have enjoyed it ever since, may feel uneasy about major changes being carried out. One member with wide experience has already given his view that the displays and 'storyboarding' (in the Birthplace Cottage in particular) are "the most effective I have seen in any museum in the UK." However, advances in interpretation, including in digital technology, and new visitor expectations, have made the refurbishment necessary.
Miller House in 2004 was given a theme, "In the Steps of Hugh Miller", taking the visitors for the first time on a visual journey through his momentous life, and now we are called upon to climb those steps again. The Friends of Hugh Miller are fully committed to supporting this exercise, and are participating in the process of drawing up a brief for design consultants who will be appointed in due course to carry it through.