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New gallery and visitor centre for Great Tapestry of Scotland

A new purpose-built gallery and visitor centre for the Great Tapestry of Scotland has opened in Galashiels, in the heart of the Scottish Borders, providing a permanent home for this incredible artwork which tells the story of Scotland to the present day.

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The Great Tapestry of Scotland is one of the world’s largest community arts projects and was the brainchild of world-renowned author Alexander McCall Smith. It tells the visual story of Scotland’s history, heritage and culture from its formation to the present day. The project took over two years to complete and the finished tapestry toured Scotland in 2013 and 2014.

Designed by artist Andrew Crummy, based on a narrative by local award-winning writer and historian Alistair Moffat, the tapestry was hand-stitched by a team of 1,000 stitchers from across Scotland and made using 160 linen panels and over 300 miles of wool (enough to lay the entire length of Scotland from the border with England to the tip of Shetland).

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Located in the centre of Galshiels, less than an hour from Edinburgh by train and less than three miles from Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott, the new permanent location for the tapestry was opened by Outlander star Sam Heughan.

Speaking about the centre’s opening, Alexander McCall Smith said: “The opening of this wonderful gallery marks the end of a long period of hard work by all of those who have created this astonishing tapestry and its permanent home. But it also marks the beginning of the public life of one of the great artistic creations of our time.”

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Sandy Maxwell-Forbes, Centre Director for The Great Tapestry of Scotland, added: “We are absolutely delighted to open the doors of our new purpose built visitor centre, with its stunning architectural ceiling sculptured to reflect the town’s Victorian roofscape. This presents an exciting opportunity to support the economy, create local jobs and enhance the cultural and educational opportunities in the south of Scotland. And it offers a fantastic day out for locals and visitors alike.”

VisitScotland Chief Executive Malcolm Roughead said: “The opening of The Great Tapestry of Scotland is a fantastic addition to the region’s tourism offering. This unique and exciting new story-telling attraction will celebrate the history of our country and, as we look towards the Year of Stories 2022, will play a significant role in supporting Scotland’s economic recovery, helping to grow the region’s tourism offering, creating new jobs and attracting visitors to the south of Scotland.” 

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The visitor centre received investment from the Scottish Government, the Borders Railway Blueprint programme and the Scottish Borders Council. It will help deliver an economic boost to the town of Galashiels and the Scottish Borders as a whole, and there is already evidence that it is generating significant interest from future visitors from around the globe.

As well as permanently displaying the Great Tapestry of Scotland itself, the new visitor attraction is home to a workshop space, where visitors can meet the makers, a café showcasing Scotland’s larder, a shop and Gallery 1420, which will host a series of visiting exhibitions.

If you or your group would like to enjoy a tailor-made tour of Scotland, including a visit to see the Great Tapestry of Scotland, please do contact our friendly team. We offer a wide range of tours across the UK and Ireland and our arts and crafts tours, including our quilting and patchwork tours, are extremely popular.

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