The newly-refurbished Provost Skene’s House can be the “missing link” and help Aberdeen put itself “on the world stage”, according to the leading councillor behind the project.
Built in 1545, the city’s oldest home has been closed since 2019 for a £3.8 million revamp – but will open its doors to the public once more on Saturday.
Instead of the period furnishings it previously housed, it will now host an exhibition featuring some of the north-east’s most notable people.
Council officials expect to deal with huge demand for the house, which has kept its historic features throughout the restoration work.
‘Delight’ at Provost Skene’s House
“All the way through the life of this building there has been an appetite from the public to keep it, save it, restore it and use it, and I think people will be absolutely delighted,” said Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s city centre lead.
“People are taking these types of cultural experiences in a different way. Before it was lovely and it had some period furniture, but it wasn’t as used as we would have liked.
“A lot of amazing people have done amazing things, not just in Aberdeen but out in the wider world, and we felt it was time Aberdeen, going from being quite quiet and not wanting to shout about itself, actually put itself on the world stage with a big voice.”
‘Great honour’ for city heroes
The new exhibition, which fills 12 rooms of the 16th-century building, includes some of the most recognisable names from the north-east – both past and present.
Illustrator Johanna Basford, Olympic swimmer Hannah Miley and writer Stuart MacBride, who attended an event at the house ahead of its reopening, each described their inclusions as “a great honour”.
“You don’t realise how many amazing people have come from our city and shire,” Ms Basford added.
“It’s something I am hugely proud of and I can’t wait to show my kids.”
Council ‘pushed every boundary’
Work on the house was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought the country to a halt last year and pushed the opening date back several months.
But despite the delays, Ms Boulton – who earlier defended the work amid criticism from opposition councillors – said the local authority had “pushed every boundary” to get the job done.
“The slight delay probably hasn’t had that much of an impact really in terms of getting people through the door,” she said.
“They have managed their way through it and it’s absolutely phenomenal.
“I think people will have to come back several times to take in a fraction of the information because there is just so much. I just hope people love it as much as I do.”
Entry to Provost Skene’s House will be free and its opening hours will be Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm and Sunday 11am-4pm.