The stories of the "New Scots" to be told at St Mungo Museum of Religious Art and Life

The stories of the "New Scots" to be told at St Mungo Museum of Religious Art and Life

A new display telling the stories of former refugees and asylum seekers living in Glasgow opens at St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, Glasgow on Friday 22 June as part of Refugee Festival Scotland.

New Scots explores issues of cultural identities and the concept of ‘home’ through objects former refugees and people within the asylum process have donated to or chosen from Glasgow Museums Collections, and an accompanying film.

Objects from Glasgow Museums Collections in the display includes a print of acclaimed Scottish artist Ken Currie’s painting Peace, chosen by Syrian teenagers because of the personal connection they made with the work, a North African Darbukka or hand drum, and 19th century qabqab stilted bath clogs from the former Ottoman empire.

Donated objects include a lace table mat and a decorative sugar dish, both from Kosova.

The display is the culmination of a year-long community engagement project involving more than 30 people from Glasgow’s diverse community of refugees and asylum seekers who have lived in the city over the last 20 years.

During the project St Mungo’s Museum worked with a wide range of organisations, including the Maryhill Integration Network, The Weekend Club – Interfaith Glasgow’s established outreach programme, the City of Glasgow College, and the Church of the Nazarene, Parkhead.

New Scots will be on permanent display in the Scottish Gallery, and entry to the museum is free.

Chair of Glasgow Life, Councillor David McDonald, said: 

The diversity of communities throughout Glasgow is one our city’s greatest strengths. Our daily lives are enriched with the influence of myriad traditions and cultures.

“Through this display we can share and learn from the stories of refugees and asylum seekers whose personal journeys have brought them to make their homes in Glasgow. This is both humbling and inspiring, for all of us who call Glasgow home, and for visitors to our city who will be able to understand better the fabric of Glasgow thanks to the New Scots.”

Explaining why they chose the Ken Currie’s work "Peace", Jalal and Yazan from Syria, said: 

We saw this painting in the museum stores and like the mix of all the different people working together. They are working hard and trying to build their city and doing what they know best. This reminds us of what is going on in Syria. The banner that says, 'Jobs not bombs'."

Reema from Kosova donated the decorative sugar bowl for the display. She said: 

This is the first object I bought when I got my first wage when I started working in 1973. I really loved ornaments. It is handmade with the traditional filigree-making skills of the Kosovar Albanians.”

Sabir Zazai, Chief Executive of Scottish Refugee Council, said: 

The story of people seeking refugee protection and rebuilding their lives in a place of safety is part of the story of Glasgow itself. This exhibition gives old and New Scots a chance to learn a little more about each other in a very personal and powerful way. Just like Refugee Festival Scotland, it gives people from different backgrounds the chance to get to know each other better, to find out a little about each other’s cultures and to discover the things we have in common.”

The award-winning St Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art, named after Glasgow's patron saint, is home to inspiring displays of artefacts and stunning works of art exploring the importance of religion in peoples’ lives across the world and across time. For more information visit: