Summer Exhibition 2013: Mary Queen of Scots

The news has been out for some time, but now that 2013 is here the opening date for this exhibition on 28 June 2013, at the National Museum of Scotland, does not seem so far away.


It is billed as “a fresh, innovative approach”, and will apparently draw heavily on material goods from the period and those associated with the queen – her jewels, textiles, furniture, documents and portraits. For years, Mary’s dramatic story and this fascinating period in Scottish history have been exploited for all that they’re worth. However, if this exhibition really does achieve a fresh look, then it should be very instructive indeed.  What’s clear anyway is that will offer an opportunity to air anew the controversies that have long divided scholars regarding a woman who, arguably, was “one of the most enigmatic figures in Scottish history. Her story arouses strong emotions: was she betrayed by those she trusted, condemned to die a Catholic martyr or was she a murdering adulteress with her husband’s blood on her hands?”

Edinburgh does, of course, have plenty of fascinating material, ranging from Mary’s last letter, now in the National Library of Scotland, written to Henri III of France on 8 February 1587, barely six hours prior to her execution at Fotheringay Castle, to the full length portrait by an unknown artist, commissioned by her son some twenty years later, and now in the National Portrait Gallery.  Of course, there’s also Holyrood Palace itself, which is preparing a special tour to coincide with the exhibition.

I imagine the jewels and textiles referred to earlier will include the Lennoxglove ring, as well the Penicuik jewels. However, I’m looking forward to seeing what else will be included.  More later….