Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

National Museum of Scotland opening attracts thousands

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Media captionThe three-year refurbishment programme has seen storage areas turned into public space, making it one of the UK's largest museums

More than 22,000 people have visited the National Museum of Scotland's newly-refurbished Victorian building on its opening day.

About 2,000 people gathered outside the Edinburgh attraction as they waited for the museum doors to open to the public following a £47.4m refit.

Chambers Street was closed to traffic for the event, which involved live entertainment on the museum steps.

A spokeswoman said 20,017 visitors came to the museum during the day.

The 10,000th visitor had entered the building by midday, she added.

Sixteen new galleries take visitors on a journey through the wonders of nature, the cultures of the world and through to science and discovery.

More than 8,000 objects were on display in the new area, 80% for the first time in generations.

Image caption About 2,000 people enjoyed live entertainment while waiting for the doors to open

The three-year programme has seen the original interior restored and storage areas turned into public space, making it one of the UK's largest museums.

It means the whole museum, situated in Chambers Street in the Old Town, will have 20,000 objects across 36 galleries.

Exhibits range from a life-sized skeleton cast of a Tyrannosaurus Rex to specimens collected by Charles Darwin and 3,000-year-old mummies.

The project has been jointly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Scottish government and private donations.

Working with Scottish architect Gareth Hoskins and exhibition designer Ralph Appelbaum, National Museums Scotland has also restored Victorian architecture, created new galleries, a major gallery to host international exhibitions, a three-storey learning centre and a new street-level stone-vaulted entrance hall.

Glass lifts carry visitors from the entrance hall to the Grand Gallery, housing the UK's single largest museum installation, the Window on the World: a four-storey, 18-metre (59ft) high display of more than 800 objects.

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