My Darien Chest Adventure

Whilst browsing the Edinburgh International Festival website the other day, I noticed that there was a play production coming up called Caledonia.  My inside out lateral thinking got the better of me and I quickly discovered that there was a direct connection with this play to an object in our collection – the Darien Chest at the National Museum of Scotland.  This is where my Darien Chest adventure begins…

Caledonia programme
Caledonia is on at the King’s Theatre Edinburgh from 21-26 August as part of the Edinburgh International Festival.

I wondered if there was a useful connection to be made with Caledonia, which documents the Darien Scheme to start  a Scottish colony on Darien, Panama, in Central America and turn Scotland into an imperial power. William Patterson devised the Darien Scheme and he invited the public to invest. And they did – in a big way. Within weeks a vast proportion of the nation’s wealth had been subscribed. The Darien Chest was used to store money and documents associated with the Company of Scotland trading to Africa and the Indies, a trading company set up to facilitate the colonisation.

The Darien Chest
The Darien Chest, Level 1, National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF

Contact was soon made with Colin Clark, Web Editor at National Theatre of Scotland, who was delighted with the connection with the Darien Chest.  The result is a Darien page on National Theatre Scotland’s website has been created and we have a featured the play on our Darien Chest collections highlights page. If you are in Edinburgh during the Edinburgh International Festival why not go and see Caledonia at the Kings Theatre and visit to the National Museum of Scotland to see the Darien Chest in the flesh!

The moral of my Darien Adventure is that working with the National Museums Scotland’s collection makes your mind work in mysterious ways…

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