Historic Environment Scotland has launched Talking Shops – A History of Scotland’s Shopfronts; the latest exhibition at the Engine Shed, Scotland’s national conservation centre in Stirling.
The exhibition, which features photos and artefacts from across Scotland, is intended to celebrate the diversity of styles of shopfronts which can be found across the country. Samples of materials commonly used in shopfronts – such as the toughened, coloured glass Vitrolite, which can still be seen in many historic building facades – will also be on display.
The star of the exhibition is a golden beaver sign, which once took pride of place as part of the shopfront of a Stirling hat shop and now forms part of the collection of the Smith Museum and Art Gallery. Beavers have a long association with the hat-making industry as a source of material and consequently as a symbol of the trade. Resources on traditional sign-writing and a video highlighting Scottish shopfronts will also be on display.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Dorothy Hoskins, Technical Outreach and Education Manager at the Engine Shed said: “With so much shopping taking place online and the growth of chain shops who do not necessarily have a traditional shopfront that focuses on their goods, it’s easy to forget how impressive, memorable and well-displayed shopfronts could impact on business.
“We want to explore the benefits that changing technology brought to shops as they developed, with glass, lightweight alloys and mass production all allowing for brighter, bolder and more impressive frontages, helping to spur competition in towns.”
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