Museum curators are rolling out the red carpet to anyone with an interest in one of Fife’s enduring industrial success stories. 

Cultural charity OnFife is offering bespoke tours that give local history enthusiasts a glimpse of rarely seen objects from its globally renowned linoleum collection.

Staff will guide visitors round its Collections Centre in Glenrothes so they can appreciate a remarkable array of linoleum-related artefacts – most of which have never been publicly displayed.

Tours will enable people to see close up highlights from a collection that includes photographs, pattern books, catalogues, samples and workers’ tools. Curatorial staff will also be available to answer any questions.

All of the objects are associated with the factories in Kirkcaldy, Falkland and Newburgh that built the county’s reputation as a world-leading centre for linoleum production.

The event is part of a £115,000 initiative that is seeking to engage people with OnFife’s linoleum collection. The Flooring the World project – backed by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund – is also encouraging people to come forward with work-related artefacts.

Tours will highlight objects that people have donated since the launch of the initiative earlier this year. Among them are a handful of items gifted by workers and their families.

Also included will be linoleum marquetry pictures, banners carried by workers on summer excursions and a delightful artwork created by renowned sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi to display promotional materials.

The sculpture is part of an archive gifted by Kirkcaldy’s sole remaining linoleum producer, Forbo, which took over the town’s earliest floor covering manufacturer, Michael Nairn & Co, in 1985.

Tours, which take place on 11 October, will include a brief introduction to OnFife’s wider collection of more than 230,000 cultural and historical objects.

Project engagement curator Lily Barnes says: “Linoleum manufacturing is central to the heritage of so many people in Fife – we can’t wait to share with visitors some of the remarkable objects that make up this invaluable collection.”

Tours, which are limited to groups of ten, are free but must be booked in advance – either by calling 07548 777008, emailing or visiting the OnFife website.


Promotional elephant created for Nairn’s in 1973 by the sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi.  


Nairn’s Ladies Hockey Club, pictured at Priory Park in Kirkcaldy, in 1955-56 season. 

Linoleum pattern, adapted from a design for wallpaper by Walter Crane, and produced by the Kirkcaldy Floorcloth Company in the late 1800s.