Home National museum Edinburgh’s famous Jawbone Arch could find a new home at the National Museum of Scotland

Edinburgh’s famous Jawbone Arch could find a new home at the National Museum of Scotland


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The Jawbone Arch, which stood at the entrance to the Meadows for over 120 years, has been declared too fragile to return to its traditional location.

But the search is underway for an indoor location where it could be displayed.

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The original bow is too fragile to return to Les Prés and will be replaced by a bronze replica.

The famous monument, which was dismantled for major conservation work in 2014, will be replaced on the Prairies with a bronze replica.

But the plan is for the original arch – made up of four whale jawbones – to be preserved and kept in the city.

The city council’s culture committee approved the replica proposal and agreed to explore options for a new home for the original.

Conservative adviser Mark Brown suggested: ‘The National Museum of Scotland would probably be a suitable place for him to be, a place where people can learn about his history. But it is also such a magnificent structure, which would give him a safe place, in a controlled environment, and where he could be enjoyed by so many.

The council’s curator of fine arts, David Patterson, said the intention was to keep the original jaws and try to find suitable accommodation inside to re-erect them.

“It would preserve them in an environment that would be stable throughout the year.”

Regarding the National Museum’s suggestion, Mr Patterson said: ‘That would definitely be one of the options we would like to explore. Certainly the National Museum has the space to display it and it is clear that with the number of visitors it would be seen by many people.

Committee leader Donald Wilson said: ‘It needs to be displayed in a place where it will be seen as it is such an iconic structure.

And Tory adviser Max Mitchell said: ‘The replica will be exciting but it will be nice to have the real one too.’

The original bow formed the stand of the Orkney and Fair Isle Knitters at the International Meadows Exhibition in 1886. It was donated to the town by the people of Shetland the following year.

The arch was removed from its place at the entrance to Jawbone Walk in July 2014 after it was declared a risk to pedestrians due to its deterioration.

But Mr Patterson told the committee: ‘The restoration of the Meadows jawbone has been a very bumpy journey so far.’

Those working on conservation discovered that there had been previous attempts to repair the bones using putty and body cement.

A report to the committee said the conservator in charge of the project went into administration and the conservation work was later altered without the council’s consent.

The bones had been stored in several locations for approximately three years, while the restoration project was reassessed due to financial and legal considerations and a change in personnel.

And when they were finally sent back to Edinburgh, it was decided they would need a full cadre to support them in position.

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Edinburgh’s famous landmark, Jawbone Arch, is ‘too flimsy’ to regain its place in…

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