of the Faculty of Advocates,” said Dr John Scally, National Librarian. “This exhibition tells the story of those who helped shape the world we live in today. These individuals developed radical ideas on the sciences, economics, society and identity, amid a growing awareness of the world around them. “The exhibition celebrates 18th century Scotland as a place of enlightened discourse and debate. It was a time of mutual respect and politeness, where people appreciated each other’s opinions and values, and further developed their theories on the basis of such conversations. Some may find this a contrast to the present day, where people are less inclined to expose themselves to alternative ideas. “We present the world as it was then, and we are in a prime position to do so given we were actively collecting items relating to the Enlightenment during the Enlightenment itself. We welcome those whose appetite is whetted by the exhibition to explore these ideas further in our reading rooms, and we will also be examining the period with a contemporary lens in our programme of talks and events.” The National Library is a major
European research library and one of the world’s leading centres for the study of Scotland and the Scots – an information treasure trove for Scotland’s knowledge, history and culture. Currently the Library holds more than 29 million physical items dating back over 1000 years in addition to a growing library of e-books, e-journals and other digital material. Every week the Library collects around 3,000 new items. Northern Lights is curated by Robert Betteridge, Curator of 18th Century Printed Collections, and Ralph McLean, Curator of Manuscripts for the Long 18th Century.
Smith’s Wealth of Nations
The free exhibition explores the Scottish Enlightenment through the display of rare books and manuscripts from 18th Century Scotland, and is grouped into themes: pre-Enlightenment Scotland, moral philosophy and religion, social science and academic innovation, language and literature, art and architecture, science and medicine, and sociability and society. Northern Lights runs until 18 April 2020 at the National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EW. Entry is free.
Photo by Kim Trainer CC BY-SA 3.0 David Hume and Adam Smith statues, Edinburgh
Between now and next April there will be a series of public talks taking place at George IV Bridge in Edinburgh. These include: •
4 July – The Northern Lights Exhibition with curators Ralph McLean and Robert Betteridge
17 July – ISECS Northern Lights: The Scottish Enlightenment panel discussion with curator Ralph McLean
5 September – Why did Enlightenment happen in Edinburgh? with Murray Pittock
26 September – David Hume on God with David Purdie
5 November – A Feminist Perspective on the City: Edinburgh’s Enlightenment with Sara Sheridan
21 November – Robert Adam with Colin Thom
3 March 2020 – Women in the Enlightenment with Rosalind Jane Carr
Booking will be available nearer the time. More talks and events may be programmed – check www.nls.uk for updates. p148