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Climate emergency in focus in new displays at the National Museum of Scotland

Friday 24 September 2021

Two new displays opening on Friday 24 September at the National Museum of Scotland explore the impact of climate change and the technological response in Scotland to the climate emergency.

Scotland’s Climate Challenge examines Scottish innovations which seek to mitigate the impact of industry on our climate through the use of alternative sources of energy by showing a range of leading-edge equipment, much of it newly collected, alongside samples of natural material. It also profiles some of those working in associated industries, such as Dr Faisal Ghani, whose pioneering invention, the SolarisKit has won awards for its contribution to lowering carbon emissions and addressing fuel poverty in the developing world. 

Ellie Swinbank, Technology Curator at National Museums Scotland, said: 

“Scotland’s Climate Challenge highlights the exciting work being carried out in this country to fight against climate change. It brings together just some of the technological responses that have been developed in Scotland or that are being used here in the effort to cut carbon dioxide emissions.  We also look at the efforts made to ensure these new technologies are themselves sustainable, both in terms of their impact on the environment and ecosystems and the resources consumed in their manufacture.” 

Unveiled at the same time, the Extinction Bell is a work by Bristol-based artist Luke Jerram. A fire engine bell from National Museums Scotland’s collection has been adapted to toll at random intervals 150-200 times per day: each ring of the bell marks the extinction of a species, representing the number of species being lost every 24 hours, according to a 2007 report from the UN. The 19th century brass bell, chosen by curators, was originally used on a horse-drawn fire engine from St Mary’s Isle estate near Kirkcudbright. 

Luke Jerram said: 

“It’s appropriate that the bell the curators chose comes from an old fire engine, as this is an emergency. I’m pleased that the National Museum of Scotland will be showing this piece, and I hope it will give visitors pause for reflection and indeed action as the world’s leaders gather in Scotland for COP26.” 

Both Scotland’s Climate Challenge and the Extinction Bell are supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. 

Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery said:  

“I’m pleased that players of People’s Postcode Lottery are supporting Scotland’s Climate Challenge and the Extinction Bell, which together highlight the scale of the challenge the world is facing, and the urgency with which it must be addressed.” 

National Museums Scotland has also been working with pupils at Castlebrae Community High School in Edinburgh to develop three short films, supported by the ScottishPower Foundation, which show how the Museum’s collections can help us understand the science of climate change, the evidence for human impact and the things that can be done to address the situation. 

Dr Christopher Breward, Director of National Museums Scotland said: 

“The global environmental emergency - not only the climate crisis but also large-scale biodiversity loss - is the biggest challenge facing the world. National Museums Scotland has an important role to play in using our collections, our museums, and our knowledge and expertise to create spaces for people to debate, learn and share ideas and work towards a better future. Scotland’s Climate Challenge and the Extinction Bell are two elements of a much wider programme across National Museums Scotland, which includes further programming in terms of events and activities but also our own operations. In the last nine years we have reduced our energy-related carbon emissions by 72%, but there is still more we can and must do.” 

September 2021 

Further information on exhibition and images from: 
Bruce Blacklaw or Alice Wyllie, Press Office on 0131 247 4165/0131 247 4288 or email and 

Notes to editors

  1. National Museums Scotland is one of the leading museum groups in the UK and Europe and it looks after collections of national and international importance. The organisation provides loans, partnerships, research and training in Scotland and internationally. Our individual museums are the National Museum of Scotland, the National Museum of Flight, the National Museum of Rural Life and the National War Museum. The National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh houses conservation and research facilities as well as collections not currently on display. 
    Twitter: @NtlMuseumsScot  
    Instagram: @NationalMuseumsScotland 
  2. Bheireadh Oifis nam Meadhanan eadar-theangachadh Gàidhlig den bhrath-naidheachd seachad do bhuidhinn mheadhanan bharantaichte. Cuiribh fios do dh'Oifis nam Meadhanan airson bruidhinn air cinn-latha freagarrach. 

  3. People’s Postcode Lottery manages lotteries on behalf of 20 Postcode Trusts. People play with their chosen postcodes for a chance to win cash prizes. A minimum of 33% from each subscription goes directly to charities and good causes in Britain and internationally. Players have raised more than £750 million so far. For details of the charities and good causes which are promoting and benefitting from the lottery draws, please visit 
  • It costs £10 a month to play and winning postcodes are announced every day. The maximum amount a single ticket can win is 10% of the draw proceeds. For details, please visit 
  • New players can sign up to pay using direct debit by calling 0808 10 9 8 7 6 5. New players who sign up online at can pay using direct debit, debit card or PayPal. 
  • Postcode Lottery Limited is regulated by the Gambling Commission under licence numbers: 000-000829-N-102511 and 000-000829-R-102513. Registered office: 2nd Floor, 31 Chertsey Street, Guildford, Surrey, England, GU1 4HD 
  • Follow us @PPLComms 

Header image: Curator Meredith Greiling with the Extinction Bell at the National Museum of Scotland. Photo: © Neil Hanna 

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