Collecting and displaying the decommissioning of North Sea Oil and Gas at the National Museums Scotland

Ellie Swinbank



This article discusses objects relating to the extraction of oil and gas from the North Sea and now held in the collection of National Museums Scotland. Oil and gas extraction and processing has been a key industry in Scotland in recent decades, important to the economy and also to the debate about Scotland’s independence. The industry is now approaching an end and it is expected that, by 2040, around 470 installations will have been closed and dismantled. In this context, the issue of preservation becomes extremely important. National Museums Scotland has been collecting and display these objects for some time. The acquisiton in 2017 of the Murchison oil platform flare tip was a key achievement and also probably the biggest challenge for staff in this area to date. Weighing nearly a ton and standing 4 metres tall, the flare tip is not only a symbol of industry but of human history, and accompanying audiovisual documentation, oral history, images and report book entries add depth to this and increase display potential. The flare tip is also a starting point for discussion about contemporary collecting and the future of energy collections in Scotland. The article discusses the significance of this object and the work relating to its preservation and display.

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