Museums & Galleries Edinburgh goes to the seaside in a new online exhibition

Photograph of a large crowd of bathers at portobello outdoor pool

Museums & Galleries Edinburgh have launched ‘Life on the Forth’, a new digital exhibition which celebrates the city’s coastal communities.

The exhibition is the latest strand of activity as part of the ongoing Auld Reekie Retold inventory project, and explores the range and depth of the history of the area of Edinburgh on the shores of the Firth of Forth. Using map-based technology, it shows stories in the context of the very streets and places they originally came from.

Edinburgh’s coastline is rich in history. Drawing on objects from across the museum service, Life on the Forth celebrates stories and histories from across Edinburgh’s coastline. Some of these might be familiar, others perhaps unexpected.

The exhibition includes personal stories and individual lives, as well as tales of an industrial past. Uncovered stories, such as the life of Barbara Seaton, or the dangerous work of Edward McRobbie, help us understand the city that little bit better. Whether tales of fishwives, fishermen, incredible feats of engineering or more modest lives and businesses, these communities past and present make the collections of Museums & Galleries Edinburgh what they are. The exhibition features the outdoor bathing pool at Portobello, which would have celebrated its 85th birthday this May.

Culture and Communities Convener, Cllr Donald Wilson said:

This fascinating exhibition is set to impress maritime history and Edinburgh enthusiasts alike.

'Life on the Forth' allows visitors to browse the exhibition at their own pace and without any time limit or physical restrictions. We’re proud to have expanded the reach of our exhibitions throughout the pandemic, not only to residents, but to those further afield who, due to distance, cost, disabilities or lack of opportunity, may have found it difficult to visit even in normal times.

This is a wonderful opportunity to get a glimpse inside these fascinating stories and remember everyone who lived their 'Life on the Forth'.

Culture and Communities Vice Convener, Cllr Amy McNeese-Mechan said:

Museums & Galleries Edinburgh have been exploring new ways to engage with our audiences and this latest exhibition is a fantastic example of the service adapting what we do during these unprecedented times.

2021 is the Year of Coasts and Waters, so what better time to discover new stories of life on the Forth. It’s truly fascinating and I can’t wait to revisit some of the areas highlighted in the exhibition.”

Auld Reekie Retold Project Manager Nico Tyack said:

This exhibition is the result of going through the coastal collections as part of the Auld Reekie Retold collections project. Many of these stories have never been heard before, and the virtual format has really helped us get the most out of these objects. 'Life on the Forth' is a truly team effort from the Auld Reekie Retold team, and much of the research has been carried out during lockdown.

We are delighted to be able to share this new exhibition with you, and encourage you to explore the exhibition.  


Published: June 10th 2021