The National Museum of Scotland is located on the south side of Edinburgh’s city center, a short distance from the Royal Mile and with views of the George IV Bridge and Chambers Street.
Previously, this location housed two museums: the adjacent Royal Museum, constructed between 1861 and 1888, and the utterly contemporary Museum of Scotland, which opened in 1998.
In 2006, the two united to form the National Museum of Scotland, a change in name that reflected the fact that visitors could freely move between them on a variety of levels.
The oldest section of the museum stopped being open to tourists in April 2008. It reopened on July 29, 2011, following a £47.4 million renovation of the structure.
The outcome is just spectacular, and it is difficult to contest the museum’s assertion that it is “one of the world’s great museums.” In 2016, further galleries were added.
1. Factual Highlights of the National Museum of Scotland
Here are some of the top factual highlights of the place that you should be well-known for.
1.1. Inspiration for the Architecture
Captain Francis Fowke, a civil engineer with the Royal Engineers, designed the National Museum of Scotland.
The museum was built over the course of several years beginning in 1861; the entire breadth of the original plan was only fully released in 1888.
1.2. The Name
Over the years, the museum’s name has changed a lot. The Scottish Industrial Museum was its original name.
The Museum of Science and Art was given a new name in 1864; nevertheless, the Royal Scottish Museum was given to it in 1904.
1.3. Contains a Wide Range of Artifacts
The National Museum of Scotland is home to a varied collection of artefacts that spans geology, archaeology, natural history, science, technology, art, and international cultures.
These artefacts include those from other nations and those connected to Scotland’s history and culture.
1.4. The Museum Has No Entrance Fees
You no longer need to reserve a ticket in advance to visit, in accordance with the current Scottish Government standards. The museum offers free admission.
Donations are nevertheless encouraged but not required.
1.5. The Museum is an A-class Listed Structure
A listed building is one that has been included in one of the four official lists that Historic England, Historic Environment Scotland, Cadw, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency each keep for their respective countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
2. Things to Do at The National Museum of Scotland
Here are some of the most exciting things that you can do at the National Museum of Scotland.
2.1. Without Leaving Scotland, Take a Global Journey
Discover the cultural diversity of these Pacific Islanders, learn how the lives of Pacific Islanders are shaped by their relationships with the sea, and celebrate the global variety in performance and lives of dance, music, and costumes.
Discover the dynamic relationship between individuals and their things in Patterns of Life.
The galleries are arranged according to themes, presenting both surprising juxtapositions and insights into the many civilizations.
On Level 1, a display called Patterns of Life examines how people and their things interact dynamically over the course of a person’s life on all four continents.
An example of a contemporary African tradition where selecting a coffin-shaped after a favourite item is practised to show how possessions may represent identity, commemorate significant life events, and act as a medium for expression.
Next door, Living Lands exhibits artefacts created by indigenous people from the Australian desert to the Arctic regions of North America, and it explores how culture and beliefs are shaped by the environment.
Through contemporary art, such as pieces by the Australian artist Danie Mellor, the displays also highlight the contemporary situation.
2.2. Go for A Stroll on The Wild Side
Visit Animal World to get up and get personal with animals from various environments.
Meet a polar bear and an Arctic fox from colder climates, get to know a family of lions from Africa, crane your neck to glimpse our giraffe, and travel back in time to stroll in the shadow of a massive T. Rex skeleton replica.
In the Natural World galleries, hundreds of intriguing creatures are gathered to show the astounding diversity of life on earth.
The basic elements of conduct and engagement with the environment are introduced in this spectacular gallery from Animal World.
From the Arctic to Australia, you may learn about the lifestyles of animals there. You can even find out how you stack up by calculating your weight in relation to chimpanzees.
2.3. Explore the Grand Gallery
One of Scotland’s most stunning locations, The Grand Gallery sets the stage for your museum visit magnificently.
Take a picture with the majestic Giant Deer skeleton, see the enormous whale skull Moby, and be amazed by the equipment used to shatter atoms.
One of Scotland’s most magnificent places, the Grand Gallery’s light-filled atrium sets the tone for your museum tour with its towering pillars and tall windows. Your trip from Scotland to the rest of the globe starts right here.
The Window on the World, which rises across four stories, is the biggest single museum display in the UK.
The exhibit highlights the diversity and breadth of the Museum’s collection by presenting an amazing assortment of over 800 items from a number of countries and fields, including miniature glass sculptures, a girder from the original Tay Bridge, scrimshaw on whalebone, and Art Nouveau architecture.
2.4. Unwind and Recharge
Take advantage of the fantastic view of the Grand Gallery while enjoying lunch or a snack at the Balcony Café on Level 3.
Excellent for the whole family, with freshly made soups, sandwiches, and salads, as well as kid-friendly lunchboxes and some excellent homemade pastries.
The innovative new menu at The Museum Kitchen emphasizes sustainability and features carefully selected Scottish farmers.
It’s the ideal location to have a quick snack or full meal away from the bustle of the museum, open every day from 10:00 to 17:00.
2.5. Learn About Ceramics, East Asia, and Ancient Egypt
Go to Level 5 to the exhibit, Ancient Egypt Rediscovered, which highlights individual tales to get a feel of the ancient Egyptians’ ideals and private lives while showcasing their incredible culture and accomplishments.
The Exploring East Asia exhibition, located next door, offers a distinctive viewpoint on East Asia and allows visitors to examine and contrast the various customs, and populations, together with their respective histories of interesting and dynamic countries.
Find various illustrations of one of the first man-made materials displayed in the Level 3 Art of Ceramics exhibition.
Discover everything from a Meissen dish from the 18th century to highly ornamental Greek pottery, earthenware sculptures by Stephen Bird, a contemporary Dundee artist, a bowl from the 13th century from Persia, and the air-to-air missile’s Skyflash nose cone from British Aerospace.
These galleries, which focus on Ancient Egypt, East Asia, and the Art of Ceramics, are the culmination of a 15-year process that revealed extraordinary riches, restored one of the best Victorian buildings in the UK, and produced engaging learning opportunities to attract more people.
The Ancient Egypt Rediscovered exhibition highlights individual tales to get a feel of the ideals and private lives of the ancient Egyptians while showcasing their incredible culture and accomplishments.
The exhibits highlight the range and depth of the collection on Ancient Egypt at the National Museums. The first Egyptian artefacts entered the collection 200 years ago, in May 1819, and the galleries debuted in 2019—the same month.
2.6. Visit the Miniature Museum
Warren Elsmore, a brick artist, has constructed a little museum for you to explore. This Lego block model faithfully reproduces the museum, down to the magnificent Grand Gallery and the majestic Victorian façade.
2.7. Pose for a Photo with Dolly
The first animal to be cloned from adult somatic (body) cells was Dolly the Sheep. On July 5, 1996, she was born at the Roslin Institute.
Dolly had three mothers: the genetic material came from one, the egg cell from another, and the third one gave birth to her.
In February 2003, Dolly passed away. She was stuffed after she passed away, and now you can see her at the National Museum of Scotland’s halls of science and technology.
2.8. Pose for the Camera in the Fashion & Style Section
In the Fashion & Style collection, discover centuries of inventiveness and originality.
Find treasures by Scottish designers Pringle, Pringle, Jean Muir, and Alexander McQueen, as well as Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier’s unconventional takes on traditional tartan.
2.9. Interact with the Regal
The most contentious ruler to rule Scotland was Mary, Queen of Scots. Learn about her turbulent life and see items connected to her in Kingdom of the Scots, Level 1.
Mary, Elizabeth I of England’s cousin, was dubbed “the daughter of argument” by Elizabeth famously.
In her own day, Mary was a divisive figure who inspired fervent loyalty in her admirers and equally fervent hostility from her foes. Even now, she still elicits powerful responses.
The multifaceted truth of who Mary was and what she is meant to have accomplished continues to be obscured by myth and mystery, which have been immortalized in movies, plays, operas, and whodunnits.
They describe a Scottish queen who, in 1559–60, also briefly ruled France. She was brought up to rule, given the trappings of a Renaissance monarch, and acquired or inherited priceless jewellery and other items.
This Mary, who is lively, multilingual, an accomplished flute player and poet, and unquestionably exceptional even in the eyes of her detractors, is one of scary intelligence and complexity.
A perfect place for people who love history, art, and culture. This museum is a treasure trove of unique artefacts.