Andrew KitchenerBy Dr Andrew Kitchener, Principal Curator of Vertebrates

With the next phase of the redevelopment of the National Museum of Scotland, all the objects that could move are being packed up in the Connect gallery to be stored safely until they are redisplayed. Among these is Dolly the sheep, who must be quite relieved that she is no longer rotating endlessly while watching the countless visitors who come to see her and be photographed beside her every day.

Dolly the sheep

Dolly the sheep

One afternoon we gathered to carefully remove Dolly from her case onto a trolley. She was wheeled carefully through the galleries, down and up lifts, until she finally arrived in the packing area.  An Italian visitor, asking about Dolly’s whereabouts, was lucky to see her briefly on this nerve-wracking journey.  Once safely behind the scenes, she was once more photographed from every angle, scrutinised carefully for her current condition, and then finally her base was screwed and clamped into a very large wooden crate. Outside her case Dolly could be prey to clothes moths and other insect pests, so it is important we keep her sealed in this wooden haven.

Dolly the sheep being photographed

Dolly the sheep modelling for our photo-shoot

Dolly and her tightly sealed crate were transported carefully to the National Museums Collections Centre, which will be her home for the next year and a half until she is unveiled in the new Science and Technology galleries in 2016.

Dolly the sheep on the move

On the move!

Dolly the sheep in her crate

Have you got my best side..?

Dolly the sheep in her crate

Safely stored away in her wooden crate

You can find out more about the new galleries at National Museum of Scotland here.

Karyn McGheeBy Karyn McGhee, National and International Partnerships Intern

On Tuesday 24 September I joined the Scotland Creates Volunteers on a trip to The Roslin Institute (where Dolly the sheep was born!)  Having no idea what to expect, the whole trip was enlightening, educational and all round good fun.

The volunteers are part of a project called Scotland Creates:  A Sense of Place. They are working to curate an exhibition based on National Museums Scotland’s Science and Technology  collections, and have chosen Dolly the sheep as one of their objects to study.

The group outside The Roslin Institute

The Scotland Creates group outside The Roslin Institute, with Karyn and Scotland Creates Project Officer Fiona Young (right).

We were greeted by Nicola, The Roslin Institute’s Public Engagement Officer, who gave us a tour of the new and very flash building.  We were then taught about the basic science of Dolly and genetic modification. This gave us an insight into the research taking place at Roslin, its importance and how it relates to present day issues.

The afternoon brought us to Dryden Farm. Here we were met by Chris Proudfoot, a research fellow at The Roslin Institute, and John Bracken. John was a key member of the Dolly the sheep team – he was the person who came up with her name! We toured the farm where we were shown genetically modified sheep and pigs.

My initial thoughts on genetically modified animals were unclear, as it’s a subject I knew very little about.  Visiting The Roslin Institute taught me that there are very important reasons behind their research, such as tackling diseases. Being able to modify animal’s DNA could massively reduce the chances of major outbreaks of diseases such as Bird Flu.

Sculpture of Dolly the sheep on display in The Roslin Institute

Sculpture of Dolly the sheep on display in The Roslin Institute.

Karyn poses next to Dolly the sheep!

Karyn poses next to Dolly the sheep!

As a group, we discussed the display of Dolly in the museum.  Some of the group found it difficult to grasp the concept of a natural history specimen being located in the Connect gallery, which focuses on science and technology.  However, after visiting The Roslin Institute, a number had begun to fully appreciated her scientific significance and found it an appropriate place for her to be on display.  The majority of the group liked her interpretation and the ethical questions it raises, along with the choice of touch screen display. The spinning motion of Dolly’s display was hotly debated, with some members finding it expressive of her importance to science while others found it unsettling. Overall, after learning about Dolly’s love of attention and natural curiosity for people, perhaps this is what Dolly would have enjoyed, observing everyone and being put on a pedestal.

Dolly the sheep on display in the National Museum of Scotland

Dolly the sheep on display in the National Museum of Scotland.

Dolly the sheep stars in one of three animated films developed by our Scotland Creates volunteers, which  are showing show in our Science and Technology galleries at National Museum of Scotland from November 2013 – January 2014. Find out more at www.nms.ac.uk/scotlandcreates.