Millennium Clock Tower In 2010, the Millennium Clock Tower celebrated its tenth birthday. We take a look back, and forward, at this visitor favourite. The finished clock tower echoes the form of a medieval cathedral, standing just over ten metres high. It marks the passing of time but is also a summary of the best and worst of the twentieth century. The intricately animated construction comprises four sections: The Crypt, The Nave, The Belfry and The Spire. Each has its own stories to tell and secrets to reveal. Unlocking the secrets of the clock The Crypt at the base of the tower houses a bewildering combination of wheels and chains. Two figures are at the heart of this section: an oak figure of an Ancient Spirit and the colourful, mischievous Egyptian Monkey, now a favourite with children. The Nave holds a pendulum with a skeletal death figure straddling a convex mirror. Distorted figures of Lenin, Hitler and Stalin act as a reminder of the worst aspects of the twentieth century. But there is celebration of better times, too, with a playground of animated characters, including a Chaplin-like figure. Higher still is The Belfry, which accommodates the clock and the Requiem, a circle of twelve figures. Each represents a calendar month, as well as a hardship or tragedy that has afflicted humanity, from war to famine, slavery to persecution. The clock face is the most contemporary part of the tower with its brightly-coloured glass panels. The precision of the clock counteracts the chaos seen elsewhere in the tower. Right at the top of the clock tower is The Spire, empty apart from its bell. A figure stands at the very top, a female figure carrying a dead man. This is the Pietà, from the Italian for compassion and pity. It acts as a symbol for what has gone before and the strength we need to move forward. How have people reacted to the clock tower since its arrival? Rose Watban, Senior Curator of Applied Art and Design, understands it’s a provocative piece. We’ve had people who object to it, saying it’s not the sort of thing to show, that it’s too depressing. I don’t feel it’s harking back to awful things in the past, but rather acknowledging them and looking forward to a brighter future. Others love it, with crowds gathering to see it in motion. The moment the wonderful music starts playing, people are drawn across to the clock and most are delighted by it. The Millennium Clock Tower in its old position in the Royal Museum building. Click on the image to see a slideshow of details from the clock. Together with its plinth, the Millennium Clock Tower weighs around 10 tonnes, so moving it to storage was no mean feat. Millennium Clock Tower fact file On display: Level 1, Entrance to Discoveries gallery, National Museum of Scotland Made in: Scotland Date: 1999 Created by: Millennium Clock Makers Trust Made from: wood, glass and metal Did you know? Five master makers contributed their skills to making the clock: Tim Stead (furniture maker), Eduard Besudsky (kinetic sculpture) Annica Sandström (glass artist), Jürgen Tübbecke (clockmaker) and Maggy Lenert (illustrator). Related pages Discoveries Online shop The Millennium Clock Tower, with text by Maggy Lenert, tells the story of its creation, creators and magical inhabitants. You can buy a copy online here.