Bonnie Prince Charlie & the Jacobites

Design of major exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland, exploring the real story and cultural heritage of Prince Charles Edward Stuart and the rise and fall of the Jacobites – Am Prionnsa Teàrlach agus na Seumasaich. The exhibition immersed visitors in the world of the Royal House of Stuart, a dynasty divided into two courts by religion, politics and war, each fighting for the throne of the three kingdoms of Scotland, England and Ireland. Interpretation explored how four Jacobite kings became pawns in a much wider European political game and followed the Jacobites’ fight to regain their lost kingdoms. We displayed exquisite objects, and incorporated film, music and digital interactives to bring the events of this turbulent period in European history to life. Multi-lingual interpretation was provided in Gaelic and English.

Client

National Museums Scotland

Services

Exhibition Space Planning
Exhibition Design
Case Layouts
Graphic Design
Interactive Design
Project Management

“Truly comprehensive, it is essential viewing for anyone who cares about Scotland’s history.”

The Scotsman

Approach

Our approach to Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites takes visitors on a chronological journey, tracing this highly charged story which rapidly unravels over a period of 14 months. The exhibition starts with Charles’s decision to sail for Scotland and traces his initial success, jubilation and expectation as the Jacobites take Edinburgh, set up court at Holyroodhouse and march south to claim the throne. But within months, the tone of the story changes as the grim and shocking events of Culloden and its aftermath unfold. The exhibition played with scale and sightlines to add anticipation and create moments of drama. We used colour, lighting, sound, textured fabrics and large-scale scene-setting backdrops, dates, family trees and quotes to convey the fast-changing events.

“Studioarc worked tirelessly to deliver a world class exhibition on a complex subject matter. The final exhibition design gave the artefacts theatrical and emotive context and enhanced the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie. The exhibition was hugely successful for us and received exceptional critical acclaim, both in the UK and internationally.”

Alison Cromarty, Exhibitions Manager, National Museums Scotland

Object displays

The exhibition brought together over 300 spectacular objects including paintings, costumes, jewellery, documents, weapons and glassware from Scotland and across Europe. We designed bespoke mounts and case layouts throughout. Fragile objects, including silk tapestries, 18th century costume and documents on vellum were carefully displayed to meet lux levels and conservation standards. We also introduced engaging displays such as the presentation of coins and medals on a period map to tell the story of the ill-fated Jacobite journey south.

“Amazing . . . Captivating . . . Great piece of storytelling.”

Janice Forsyth Show, BBC Radio Scotland

“Sumptuous . . . a dense and illuminating romp through this rich period of history.”

Sunday Herald

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