THE blight of fake news can be challenged and defeated by the expertise residing in Scotland's museums and galleries, a new report has claimed.

In the US, museums and galleries have responded to the prevalence of widely shared or deliberately released inaccurate stories on social media by holding ‘Day of Facts’ campaigns, targetting myths or lies about science, history or climate change.

Now museums in the UK are being called on to help battle Fake News in this country.

A new report by the Museums Association, covering all the museums in the UK, says museums “material evidence” can provide facts to repel false narratives.

The association’s director said that museums can shed factual light on issues such as the refugee crisis or the “demonisation of experts”.

The Museums Taskforce report, published this week, says: “in an age of ‘alternative facts’ and contested versions of history, museums provide the material evidence of our shared past and can use that evidence to host debate and discussion on contemporary topics and to prompt reflection.

“Museums help us negotiate the complex world around us; they are safe and trusted spaces for exploring challenging and difficult ideas.”

It adds: “Museums perform many roles in society, but what makes them different is that they work with the public to explore and share compelling stories about real objects and collections.”

In 2017 many American scientific and cultural bodies tweeted a #DayofFacts including a video which said “Climate change is accelerating the extinction of plants and animals.”

Sharon Heal, the director of the Museums Association (MA), said: “The MA’s view is that museums are ideally placed to provide space for people to engage, debate and reflect on some of the challenges in contemporary society whether that’s the refugees crisis, the Me Too movement or the demonisation of experts.

“Through their collections museums can provide the context and the historical lens to frame current events.

“Museums are not neutral spaces, we all bring our passions, opinions and stories with us when we talk through their doors, but they are great venues that can provide space and context for in-depth discussion and debate.”

Dr Gordon Rintoul, the director of National Museums Scotland, said: “The variety of objects in the National Collections offer us a fantastic opportunity to increase public understanding of human history, the natural environment and the way we live today.

“We always welcome debate and reflection on the objects in our care and the stories behind them, and one way that we do this is through our rich public programming.”

He added: “For example, on 8 March, David Olusoga, one of the presenters of the BBC’s new Civilisations series, will be giving a talk at the National Museum of Scotland.

“This remake of the 1970s series widens its scope across all continents, asking what makes a civilisation and how different ideas of civilisations have reinforced cultural ideas and values.”

A spokesman for Glasgow Life, which runs Glasgow’s museums such as the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, said: “Glasgow’s collections are entrusted to us by our citizens to provide an insight – and real historical knowledge – of our local communities and our place in the world.

“The treasures speak for themselves and our curators provide unbiased, expert interpretation of the stories they tell and the connections they make.”

Elsewhere in the MA report, it calls for museums in Scotland to form a key part of the Scottish Government’s new National Cultural Strategy.

It says: “Museums ought to be key stakeholders in its development, and participate as active partners in its delivery.”