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(William) Ian Robertson Finlay


1906 - 1995

Museum administrator, writer and broadcaster. Finlay was born in Auckland (New Zealand), of Scottish parents who soon returned home with their baby. He was educated at Edinburgh Academy and the University of Edinburgh. He joined the Royal Scottish Museum in 1932 becoming Assistant Keeper in charge of the silver collections. He served in the Ministry of Information during the Second World War but, returning to the museum, published the definitive book A History of Scottish Gold and Silver Work (1956). He rose to become Director of the Museum, and was noted for renewing its buildings, a new programme of popular public lectures and quality exhibitions. He served as Secretary to the Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland (1953-61). He retired from the Royal Scottish Museum in 1971 but remained active in the Scottish Arts Council, the Edinburgh Festival and the Royal Scottish Academy. He regularly spoke on art and other topics on BBC programmes.

Finlay was awarded a CBE in 1965. He spent summers at High Corrie (Arran) but died in Edinburgh.


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