Think you know museums? Think again! Forget all the cliches of dusty glass cases and think whisky tasting, dancing and cocktails, not to mention meeting Romans, Vikings, Picts and maybe even aVictorian or two!
Because all that and more is on offer across Scotland during the Festival of Museums, a three-day event which celebrates the sheer variety and excellence of our museums.
Now in its 11th year, the annual celebration of the magic of heritage, science and history runs from Friday, May 19, until Sunday, May 21.
Its aim is to get people into museums, so the packed programme hopes to spark imaginations and inspire visitors to find out more about their heritage.
This year it’s bigger than ever before, with 25 per cent more events being held compared to last year.
Joanne Orr, chief executive Museums Galleries Scotland, said: “We host the festival to give museums and galleries, big and small alike, the opportunity to do something special – to showcase their collections in unique and creative ways.
“This year is no exception.
“The action-packed weekend will give visitors an opportunity to celebrate culture, discover history and learn something new, as well as have some fun!
“We want to ignite imaginations and encourage people to explore Scotland’s incredible museums and galleries.”
A host of events have been lined up in neighbouring South Lanarkshire, centring on Hamilton Mausoleum – one of the finest private tombs in the country.
South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture is showcasing this unique landmark with A Night at the Mausoleum on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 7pm to 8.30pm for just £5 per person.
Each night, visitors will experience this wonderful building at its atmospheric best and share a secret… in its “Whisperin’ Wa’s”.
And on Sunday, the mausoleum tour will be followed by a concert by the South Lanarkshire Choir in the 18th century Assembly Room at Low Parks Museum, for an entry fee of £6.50.
Given the theme for this year’s festival is architecture, the 19th century structure stands as a shining example of all the area has to offer.
Built as a tomb and monument to Alexander, 10th Duke of Hamilton, it was incomplete at the time of his death in 1852.
Two huge lion sculptures overlook the entrance to the crypt below, where you can still see the niches for the Hamilton family’s bodies.
The chapel has a massive dome, more than 36 metres high, magnificent bronze doors, and a stunning floor made up of different marbles from around the world.
However, one of its most unique features is its amazing 15-second echo, one of the longest in the world.
So visitors this weekend will be joining a long line of people and musicians who have been drawn to it for that very reason.
Indeed, composer Francis Macdonald recently received Creative Scotland and South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture’s support to bring to life a suite of compositions written to take advantage of the building’s echo.
Musicians from the Scottish Festival Orchestra joined Francis and sound engineer Iain Hutchison in the Mausoleum in November to record the work.
Francis, who is a drummer in Indie band Teenage Fanclub, has a growing reputation as a composer for film and TV.
He said: “Hamilton Mausoleum has such a unique sound. I vividly recall from childhood the noise like thunder echoing around when the guide slammed the huge doors shut.”
The mausoleum is not wheelchair accessible and, due to uneven surfaces, may not be suitable for people with walking difficulties.
Advance booking is required for the tour and concert on 01698 452299 or via www.sllcboxoffice.co.uk.