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Museum Themes

Dunfermline has both a remarkable royal history and an impressive industrial heritage relating to its once thriving textile and coal industries, creating a rich social history. The aim of the museum is to display the prime artefacts held in Fife Council's collections and to bring the story of Dunfermline up to the present day, from Kings and Queens to linen, coal and beyond.

The main Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries displays will cover six key themes:

  • Industry: The focus will be on weaving, mining and engineering, and Dunfermline’s industrial heritage. The extraordinary popularity of the town’s linen in the 18th and 19th centuries was so important to North America that in 1872 a United States' consul was appointed in the town. In its heyday 6000 weavers were employed, but the industry declined with changing fashions, trade barriers and the First World War. On display will be the Meldrum Loom, brought to life through video footage, aural stories and songs from the weavers. Many relevant artefacts will be on display, including fine damask linen and the unique seamless shirt. 


  • Transport: Crossing the River will be a major feature – visitors will learn about the different methods used to cross the River Forth, from boat, ferry and train to a second and third road bridge. The museum will make a feature of Dunfermline’s transport curiosities including a display of the Tod Car from 1897, the only internal combustion engine car built in Dunfermline.


  • Recreation and culture: Recreation and leisure, from dancing and sports to going to the cinema, will form an important part of the social history explored in the museum. Spanning the last two centuries, display will represent the many clubs and societies in Dunfermline as well as people’s individual hobbies and pastimes. A recent public appeal has brought in many captivating objects, from Star Wars figurines to a 1950s Dansette record player.


  • Homes: The rapid modernisation of domestic living in the 20th century is illustrated through comparisons of 3 kitchens from different eras: the 1920s, the1960s and the 1990s.


  • Two World Wars: The effect of the World Wars on the people of Dunfermline will be told through personal stories, objects and photographs, representing different experiences of war at home and abroad. The story of Rosyth will also be told, from the construction of a major dockyard in the First World War to its status as a naval base, right up to dockyard’s current role in the construction of an aircraft carrier.


  • Dunfermline as a centre of royal and religious power: Dunfermline’s royal connections will feature strongly in the museum, and visitors will come face to face with Kings and Queens from throughout history: Queen Margaret of Scotland and her son King David the First; King Robert the Bruce; Queen Anne of Denmark; and her son King Charles the First of England and Scotland. Dunfermline also has far more recent royal associations – Her Majesty the Queen wore a satin silk wedding dress made from fabric woven in Winterthur’s factory in Dunfermline, and two workers from the factory were in attendance at the royal wedding. The museum will highlight both historic and continuing connections.

Throughout the Library & Galleries, ‘Play or Relax’ areas will make the experience easy and welcoming for families with children. These comfortable family areas will provide a full range of activities for children of all ages, from drawing and craft to board games, jigsaws and dressing up. These multi-purpose rooms will also be used to run different activities and workshops.