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Cold War Scotland

Exploring Scotland’s critical position on the frontline of the Cold War, a new exhibition will tell the stories of the Scots at the centre of this global conflict.

Cold War Scotland

About Cold War Scotland

13th Jul 2024 to 26th Jan 2025
Normal opening hours - see event website
National Museum of Scotland
National Museum of Scotland Chambers Street, Edinburgh Old Town EH1 1JF
This is a free event
Visit the event website here

Scotland’s unique geography and topography provided a useful base for Allied military preparations and research during the Cold War: a 40-year nuclear stand-off between the USA and the Soviet Union following the end of the Second World War.

Atomic power brought jobs and investment to some of the country’s most remote areas, as global tensions mounted the threat of attack or nuclear disaster became part of everyday life. Cold War Scotland will explore both the visible and invisible legacies of the war in Scotland.

Protest and activism:
The impact of the war still lingers in Scottish politics, culture and memory. Scots played an active role in the global conflict as soldiers, for example, within intelligence services and as part of voluntary civil defences. The exhibition will draw on Scotland’s rich history of Cold War-era protest and activism.

Firsthand accounts from this time include a young mother who decorated her daughter’s pram with Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) badges. A rattle made from an old laundry detergent bottle, stickered with the CND logo, was given to her baby during the Peace Marches of the early 1980s. The rattle will go on display in the exhibition.

Cold War legacy in Scotland:
The exhibition will also reveal the physical remains of the Cold War; the ruined bases, forgotten bunkers and decommissioned nuclear power stations still evident across the Scottish landscape.

Materialising the Cold War:
Cold War Scotland is an output of Materialising the Cold War, a collaborative research project between National Museums Scotland and the University of Stirling. The project explores how the Cold War heritage is represented and how museums can adapt to tell this story in future. Materialising the Cold War is funded by a major grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

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