Museum staff unlock the past with behind-the-scenes tours

4th October 2023

Museum curators and archivists are hosting behind-the-scenes tours so people can view highlights from a treasure trove of objects and documents.

Cultural charity OnFife is inviting visitors to its giant Collections Centre in Glenrothes where more than 250,000 artefacts are cared for.

Among the objects are some 80,000 items from Fife Council's Museums Collections, which were transferred to the former Amazon warehouse five years ago.

The collection, now cared for by OnFife, is more than 100 years old and includes donations from individuals, businesses and community organisations.

People taking the one-hour tours can also learn more about OnFife’s extensive archive of historic documents and catch glimpses of around 1,000 works of art.

All of the objects are kept in stable, environmentally controlled conditions, secure and free from damage risk.

Many reflect Fife’s industrial past – a time clock that ensured workforce punctuality at Nairn’s linoleum factory in Kirkcaldy; linen and silk sample books produced by Dunfermline cloth manufacturers; and a pair of National Coal Board wellington boots, still with traces of coal dust.

Among the artefacts are echoes of Fife’s maritime heritage – a dressing case that belonged to Catherine the Great’s revered admiral, Inverkeithing-born Samuel Greig; an elegant shop sign, shaped like a sailing vessel, that hung outside a Methil ship chandlers.

There are reminders of a lost commercial world – a ‘Protectograph’ that prevented unauthorised alteration of business cheques; a set of Scots weights and measures used by Burgh inspectors in Burntisland; and one of the earliest mass-produced office calculators.

Household gadgets – once ‘must have’, now ‘most rare’ – include a 1904 hand crank Singer sewing machine, bought in Dunfermline; a 1920s gramophone, purchased in Cowdenbeath; and a 1950s Bakelite TV, complete with nine-inch screen and 49 Guineas price tag.

There are vintage toys galore – a black Triang doll’s pram that defines the term ‘design classic’; a red pedal racing car swish enough for Stirling Moss; and a charming child’s desk, perfect for today’s homeworking were it not so petite.

Tours, which are free of charge, will take place on Wednesday (4 October), Tuesday 7 November and Thursday 7 December – all at 10.30am.

OnFife’s Collections Team Leader Gavin Grant said: “Our Collections Centre at Glenrothes really is a fantastic resource – brimful of Fife’s cultural heritage – and we want to make it accessible to everyone.”

To book a place or for more information, please contact [email protected] or visit

For a sneak peek, take a virtual tour here:

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