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Two exhibitions from the Mackinnon Collection / Edinburgh, until 16 February 2020

Just over a year since its acquisition, a taster of the vast MacKinnon Collection will be exhibited at the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (SNPG). The two institutions joined forces to purchase the collection — made up of more than 14,000 photographs dating from the 1840s to the mid-20th century in Scotland — in May last year, with the help of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Scottish Government and Art Fund.

Now people will be able to view highlights from the collection at concurrent exhibitions  'At the Water's Edge' at the National Library, and 'Scotland's Photograph Album' at the Portrait Gallery.

National Librarian Dr John Scally said: 'Scotland has a unique relationship with photography which dates back to the work of the early pioneers such as Hill and Adamson. The exhibition is a glimpse into MacKinnon's wider collection, which consists of more than 14,000 pictures, but I am excited to share a selection of them as we believe they are truly Scotland's photograph album.I am confident that every Scot will feel a connection with these wonderful photographs and we look forward to sharing them with the public over the coming months.'

National Galleries of Scotland, Director General Sir John Leighton, said: 'Scotland's Photograph Album: The MacKinnon Collection' allows audiences the chance to be transported back to a century of change and growth. It is not only a fascinating look at historical Scottish life that sits just on the edge of living memory, but also an important showcase of the innovative progression of photography in Scotland.'

The MacKinnon Collection was put together by collector Murray MacKinnon, who established a successful chain of film-processing stores in the 1980s, starting from his pharmacy in Dyce, near Aberdeen. The collection covers an expansive range of subjects — including family portraits, working life, street scenes, sporting pursuits, working life, transport, landscapes and cityscapes. Until last year, it was estimated to be one of the last great collections of Scottish photography still in private hands.

Taking inspiration from VisitScotland's Year of Coasts and Waters for 2020, the National Library's 'At the Water's Edge' reflects on this theme, with a strong emphasis on social history and the changing nature of Scotland's coastal communities.

Highlights include:

  • Photographs by George Washington Wilson, capturing working life and remote landscapes in Orkney and St Kilda in the 1870s
  • Some of the earliest known images of fishing communities in Aberdeen and Edinburgh dating from the 1870s onwards.

'At the Water's Edge' at the National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, and 'Scotland's Photograph Album' at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 1 Queen Street, Edinburgh run from Saturday 16 November until Sunday 16 February 2020. Admission is free.

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