THE first major UK exhibition on Scotland’s ancient symbol the unicorn has been announced as Perth Museum’s opening exhibition this Easter.

Exploring the unicorn from antiquity to the present day, it will look at themes such as Scottish royalty and national symbolism that relate to the objects and stories on display in the new permanent galleries, including the Stone of Destiny.

Star loans include the Danny Jewel, an English Elizabethan pendant jewel of narwhal horn and enamelled gold, usually on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London.

Renaissance pendants were sometimes made as amulets for protection against danger. People once believed the tusk of the dolphin-like narwhal, found in Arctic waters, came from unicorns.

The V&A is also lending an intricately carved narwhal tusk from the early 12th century.

It is one of only two known medieval examples with carved decoration of foliage, human figures and serpent-tailed dragons.

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The stunning oil painting Lady and the Unicorn by the late-Renaissance Italian artist Luca Longhi (1507-80) will be shown in the UK for the first time, on loan from the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo, highlighting the enduring symbolism of the unicorn through the Middle Ages and beyond.

A regal silver unicorn features atop the 19th-century ceremonial rod or wand, part of the regalia of the Usher of the White Rod.

Made around the time of King George IV’s coronation and visit to Scotland, it represents a tradition that dates back to the inauguration of Gaelic kings and the rod was the primary symbol of a rulers’ legitimate authority.

There will also be objects and stories of personal significance from the local community, from ornaments and images to memorabilia and toys.

There is still time to submit an object for the project at Perth Art Gallery or one of the participating libraries across Perth and Kinross.

JP Reid, Culture Perth & Kinross’s senior new projects officer, said: “From medieval tapestries and oil paintings to toys, video games and movies, the figure of the unicorn has been a familiar but shifting cultural icon for more than 2000 years.

The National: Exhibition to celebrate
Scotland’s unicorn

“We are thrilled to be able to display a stunning selection of artworks and artefacts, including a series of newly commissioned sculptures.

“With a long, complex and often contradictory history, the unicorn has been a popular subject for contemporary artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, and activists. It is a symbol through which ideas like authenticity, belief, gender, and nationalism can be explored.”

The final section of the exhibition features six newly commissioned artworks exploring the struggles faced by the LGBTQI+ community worldwide.

The artworks transform blank, life-sized horse heads into artworks that symbolise the theme of Unicorn Hunting in 2023.

The featured artists are Alex Hayward, Ciaran Cannon, David Hutchison, GainAgain, Francis Macleod and Kathryn Hanna.

Unicorn will include an events and activities programme both within the exhibition and throughout Perth and Kinross for families, young people, and adults, thanks to generous support from the Northwood Charitable Trust.

The National: Exhibition to celebrate
Scotland’s unicorn

The doors of the new museum will open to the public on Saturday, March 30. It is a

£27 million transformation of the former City Hall funded by £10m of UK Government investment through the Tay Cities Deal and by Perth and Kinross Council, Perth Museum is a £27m transformation of the former City Hall.

The doors to the new museum will open to the public on Saturday, March 30.

It is a £27 million transformation of Perth’s former City Hall, funded through the Tay Cities Deal and Perth and Kinross Council.

Perth Museum is free to enter. Tickets for Unicorn cost £10/£8 and are available to book at

Members of the Culture Perth and Kinross Supporters Scheme receive free entry.