Our Dynamic Earth, the visitor attraction beside Holyrood which tells the story of planet earth, has won a Heritage Lottery Fund grant worth £622,800 to develop a new gallery. It will celebrate the work of James Hutton, the father of modern geology, whose pioneering work influenced such luminaries as Charles Darwin, helping to form the theory of evolution. Despite being Edinburgh born and bred, Hutton’s name is less well-known and his work less recognised than other members of the 18th century Enlightenment movement, such as Adam Smith.
All that will change with the development of an interactive exhibition that will use cutting-edge technology to bring Hutton himself, and his theories and studies, to life – quite literally. Plans include a bringing Hutton to ‘life’ through a ghostly image, allowing him to get into discussion with animated portraits of the geologists who came after him and other great thinkers who took his ideas forward.
Commenting on the latest investment, Professor Stuart Monro, scientific director of Dynamic Earth, explained that “James Hutton was inspired by walking in Scotland’s landscapes and farming in the Borders, where he developed ideas which were way ahead of his time, but which have since proved that the Earth has indeed been formed over thousands of millions of years. “It is fitting, in this Year of Natural Scotland, that this grant has been made available to us, enabling us to progress some extremely exciting plans for the new gallery and to acknowledge the contribution of some unsung Scottish heroes to our understanding of how the Earth works.”
As well as ghostly images and talking portraits, the gallery will feature giant interactive blackboards; state of the art projection and other special effects. The redevelopment will also feature an updating of the Time Machine to transport visitors back to the dawn of the universe. The experience will also be taken out across Scotland through the network of science festivals.
Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “The name James Hutton is not so well-known in Scotland, yet this farmer and naturalist is recognised worldwide as the founder of modern geology. We are delighted to give our support to a project which will celebrate his fascinating life and career along with the lives of other geologists with Scottish connections. Through learning and volunteering opportunities, festivals and exhibitions, people across the country will become acquainted with his achievements and the influence Scotland has had in shaping the knowledge of our planet.”
The new gallery is expected to open at Easter 2014.