Andrew Carnegie: the legacy that changed the world opens at Holyrood


Scots-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie's legacy is explored in an exciting new exhibition opening at the Scottish Parliament today.

‘Andrew Carnegie: the legacy that changed the world’ showcases how the beliefs and actions of one individual resulted in an international legacy of philanthropy, and explains how the legacy of this Scots born philanthropist continues to shape 21st Century institutions and ideas. 

The Presiding Officer, the Rt Hon Tricia Marwick MSP said:

“Andrew Carnegie’s life is a real ‘rags to riches’ story, which is interesting in itself. Perhaps more interesting however, is how he used his vast wealth to improve society and encourage philanthropy.

“From establishing libraries to supporting education, scientific research and the arts, Carnegie’s legacy has touched many people from all walks of life, and this fascinating exhibition captures that and demonstrates the power of an individual to make a positive impact on society.”

This exhibition was made possible due to the generous support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and was created by a collaborative partnership between Carnegie Dunfermline Trust, Carnegie Birthplace Museum and the Scottish Parliament.

Nora Rundell, Chief Executive, Carnegie Dunfermline Trust said:

“In his lifetime Andrew Carnegie became the richest person in the world and the first modern philanthropist. He was uniquely resolved to give away his wealth and dedicated his later life to philanthropy, giving away $350 million before he died.

“It is hardly surprising to therefore see the extent to which his legacy continues to influence today’s world. From cutting edge science to art to educational establishments, Andrew Carnegie continues to provide support to people seeking to improve the lives of others. This exhibition, the associated seminars and Medal of Philanthropy ceremony this week will hopefully inspire others to follow in his footsteps. He would like that.”

Exhibits and installations include:

McBlare, a robot designed to play bagpipes
Designed by Professor Roger Dannenberg at Carnegie Mellon University, this robot can play faster than a human being. 

Carnegie Mellon University was founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1900.   Today it includes a Robotics Institute, whose research ranges from developing robots that could provide care in the home, to designing a vehicle to cope with the terrain on Mars.

Annual Report from Children’s Television Workshop (Sesame Workshop) to the Carnegie Corporation of New York, 1973 and Sesame Tree puppets:
In 1966, the Carnegie Corporation of New York funded research into teaching children through television. This funding helped launch Sesame Workshop, the producer of Sesame Street. The Corporation continues to support Sesame Workshop. They carry out a wide programme of education worldwide and often create new characters inspired by the local environment.  

Sesame Tree is a version of Sesame Street made in Northern Ireland by SixteenSouth Television and Sesame Workshop.   Sesame Workshop has a remit to build the Sesame model for respect and understanding across the sectarian divide.
Peace Palace:
Illustrations from Puck magazine focussed on Carnegie’s peace work are in the exhibition. Carnegie donated $1.5 million to build a Peace Palace at The Hague, which opened in 1913. This was to house the Permanent Court of Arbitration, established by the first Hague Peace Conference of 1899 to work towards a ‘real and lasting peace’ and limit weapons development.

Dark matter:
The exhibition includes a photograph of astronomer Vera Rubin (based at the Carnegie Institution of Washington from 1965) using an image tube spectrograph built by Carnegie staff member Kent Ford to photograph galaxies. Her research resulted in the theory that around 90% of the universe is invisible to us, often described as ‘dark matter’.

Diplodocus carnegii is one of the most recognisable dinosaurs today, and it was named after the man who helped to make it famous. In 1898, Andrew Carnegie heard about an expedition uncovering the bones of a giant dinosaur. He tasked W. J. Holland, director of his new museum in Pittsburgh, with acquiring it, which Holland did after extensive negotiations. The fossilised bones are still on display today at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh. Carnegie also had Holland arrange for a replica to be crafted for The Natural History Museum in London. The exhibition contains newspaper reports and images recording these points in history and plaster replicas of Diplodocus bones, on loan from the Natural History Museum, London.

Exhibits are being loaned by sixteen organisations including the Library of Congress, Columbia University Archives, Carnegie Hall Archives, British Library, the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and National Records of Scotland.  

Andrew Carnegie:   the legacy that changed the world’ runs from Tuesday, 15 October 2013 – Saturday, 25 January 2014 in the Main Hall at the Scottish Parliament.  Entry is free, from 9.30am – 6 pm. 

For further information:  Andrew Carnegie International Legacy: Shaping the Future


The exhibition is part of a programme of events, seminars and activities taking place at Holyrood from October 2013 to January 2014.  The events form ‘Andrew Carnegie’s International Legacy: Shaping the Future’ and explore the legacy of Carnegie’s philanthropy in the fields of education, peace, politics, science and culture.  It opened on 5 October with Andy Warhol:  Pop, Power and Politics, which runs until 3 November. 

Since 2001, philanthropists who have similarly dedicated their private wealth to public good have been recognised by the Andrew Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy. The Scottish Parliament will host the ceremony this year on 17 October, only the second time it has been held outside of the US, the first time being in 2005 at Holyrood as well.

Contact information

Scottish Parliament media contact and images:

Grayling PR on behalf of Carnegie UK

Public information

  • Telephone enquiry line: 0800 092 7500 or 0131 348 5395 (Gàidhlig)
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