THE waiting was finally over for those behind the project to bring a new museum to Dunfermline as it finally opened its doors – and received the thumbs up from impressed visitors.
The new £12.4 million Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries was declared open at 10am this morning after a rollercoaster journey to create the stunning facility.
And as more than 1,600 visitors arrived to check out displays that tell stories from the past ranging from Dunfermline's linen industry to rock stars and royalty, they emphatically gave the venue the thumbs up.
Stunning views of the Abbey and the huge range of artefacts, real-life narratives and variety of topics proved a hit with visitors, who believe the new museum will be a huge asset to the town.
The first member of the public to step inside the building was Rosemary Summerson, who said: “I really appreciate the benefits this building brings to Dunfermline. It's wonderful to see the original Carnegie Library come back to life in this way.
“When I went through to the new children's library, it was refreshing to see another generation so engaged. This is all for them, after all, isn't it? The amount of babies and youngsters in there today – that's indicative of what's to come. We haven't lost our love of education.”
A sun-kissed first day saw people of all ages – including lots of children – took their time to explore the two-floor facility which also has three temporary exhibition galleries, a cafe, a shop, a new children's library, reading room and a garden.
Alan and Ros Chalmers, of Dunfermline, said the museum was something the town had needed “for a long time” and said that the views from inside the building blew them away.
Ros said: “It is very impressive and I like how they have taken advantage of the views, which are fantastic. I am very pleased that they have kept the library as it was; I'm pleased they've not modernised it!
“We've been needing something like this for a long time to encourage people to this end of the town centre. It's a great asset to the town; the artefacts and pictures are great, and the garden is lovely. We'll definitely be coming back.”
The Inglis family, from Dalgety Bay, also visited on opening day and Mrs Inglis commented: “I'm very proud of it. I couldn't believe how much there was in what we thought was a small space, but is actually much bigger.
“The building is amazing and the views are tremendous. The (Meldrum) Loom (restored for the museum by master weaver Ian Dale and a team of volunteers) is wonderful and the coal mining section is really interesting as well.
“There is a huge amount of information and is a great addition to the town. It will be worth coming back.”
There was even more praise for the new facility on the Press Facebook page, with Natasha Walker commenting: “We've just spent the whole morning there...it's absolutely fantastic! Everyone involved in putting this enormous project together should be so proud of themselves. Well done Dunfermline.”
Kirsty Thomson said: “We had an amazing pre opening tour with the primary school and was absolutely blown away! So much thought and work has gone in to it and it's a fantastic asset to Dunfermline! So many local community volunteers have been involved along side the hard working staff who have put hours upon hours of work in. Can't wait to take my kids along time and time again......so much to see and learnt!”
Fiona Caines added: “It's wonderful! My daughter was the first in the Children's Library.”
A total of 460 volunteers helped on the museum project and one of those is John Longmuir.
He helped bring the Meldrum Loom, originally built in 1835, to the museum and he said: “A dozen of us were involved in restoring the loo; I had no experience of the linen or weaving industry but turned up one day because I was looking for something to volunteer for!
Heather Stuart, chief executive of Fife Cultural Trust, said: “This building and all that will happen within it from here on will play a key role in the regeneration of Dunfermline through culture and heritage. This is a community project in spirit and a great deal of blood, sweat and tears from so many people have gone into bringing it to life.
“Thanks to the dedication and commitment shown by the project team, staff and over 450 volunteers, we have created a vibrant visitor attraction that will be enjoyed for many generations to come. It’s a state of the art facility and a fitting celebration of the past, present and future of Dunfermline. We are immensely proud of what we have all created together.”
Steve Grimmond, Fife Council’s Chief Executive, said: “This impressive new facility in the heart of Dunfermline’s Heritage Quarter is set to be a real cultural asset for Fife.
“It’s been an ambitious and demanding project for those involved but seeing the finished product and the reaction from visitors highlights just how significant this building will be for the town centre. Investing funding in the venture, alongside Heritage Lottery Fund and Carnegie Dunfermline Trust, means that Dunfermline now has a museum fitting to its royal story.”