National Museums Scotland present Mary Queen of Scots exhibition

National Museums Scotland present Mary, Queen of Scots an exhibition on view through 17 November.

© Blairs Museum Trust

Mary Queen of Scots © Blairs Museum Trust

Arguably the most famous and controversial figure in Scottish history, Mary Stewart has become something of an enigma. Intrigue and romance have often obscured the hard facts of her life and reign. This exhibition aims to shed new light on her story.

The only daughter of the late James V of the ruling Stewart dynasty, Mary became Queen of Scots at only six days of age. She reigned from 1542 until her forced abdication in 1567. After 19 years as a prisoner of her cousin, Elizabeth I of England, Mary was executed on 8 February 1587.

Unlike Elizabeth, there was never any doubt that Mary would be a queen. Born in the middle of the momentous 16th century, Mary was to play her own significant part in this dramatic era. The expectation that she was born to rule extended to her burning ambition to be named as Elizabeth’s heir to the throne of England. This desire came to dominate Mary’s relationship with Elizabeth and, ultimately, it would prove to be a dangerous obsession which would bring about her death.

This is the first exhibition on the life and times of Mary to bring together objects from a wide variety of media, including jewellery, textiles, furniture, paintings, drawings, maps and documents to illustrate Mary’s story, and the wider world in which she lived. This comprehensive selection of around 200 objects has been drawn from the collections of National Museums Scotland, augmented with many loans from major public collections in Scotland, England and France. To further enrich the exhibition a number of key loans have been drawn from private collections, often from families with direct links to Mary. A large proportion of these loans have never before been on public display in Scotland.