Last night saw the return of RBS Museum Lates to the National Museum Scotland, this time with the theme ‘Night of the Vikings’. Being a bit of a geek, NMS is one of my favourite places in Edinburgh and I’ve been fascinated by Vikings ever since reading The Vicious Vikings as a bookish 10-year old, so of course I snapped up a ticket ASAP.
‘Night of the Vikings’ is the fourth in the Lates series and is in honour of NMS’s current exhibition, ‘Vikings: The Untold Story’. As with all the other Lates events, this one sold out prior to the date and the 1000+ attendees were treated to a variety of special activities to make it a night to remember. As well as live music, spoken word performances and a well stocked bar, there were crafts for adults, facepainting (c’mon you’re never too old), object handling and showgirls embracing the Valkyrie myth. And if that’s not enough to convince you, what about a silent disco, some comedy in the auditorium or perhaps having a go at some Viking games? Too much to choose from, right? Although the theme changes every time, the atmosphere and the effort to make it a truly special event remains constant.
For me, the highlight was of course the exhibition. Or perhaps the mead… no, no, definitely the exhibition. A rather ‘does what it says on the tin’ title, ‘Vikings: The Untold Story’ goes about dispelling some myths commonly held about Vikings. Starting with “there was no such thing as ‘vikings'”. What!? Don’t worry though, it’s just semantics. This exhibition, as all NMS temporary exhibitions have been of late, is beautiful. It is also fairly comprehensive covering everything from day-to-day activities such as dressing and cooking to the Viking’s religious beliefs and the impact of the introduction of Christianity. There are plenty of interactive features to engage with such as feeling the weight of a Viking’s sword, and a quiz at the end to see how much you have taken in! This is one that will appeal to all ages and will expand your knowledge beyond the Horrible Histories series. In my opinion, it is worth visiting to see the rivets delicately hanging from fishing line to form the hull of a Viking long-boat alone. This is definitely an exhibition I will be revisiting before it finishes on 12th May.
RBS Lates will surely return to NMS in the near future. I recommend following NMS on Facebook or Twitter to hear when the next one is planned as they do sell out some weeks in advance. At £8/£10 for Lates only or £16/£18 for Lates and entry into the special exhibition it is excellent value for a memorable night out and certainly worth going to at least once to see the museum in a different light. If nothing else, you get to play with all the interactive features without feeling guilty about the kids waiting nearby for a go. And you can have wine and dress up like a loon (see above).