The National Museum of Scotland has ha a somewhat convoluted evolution. National Museums Scotland was formed by Act of Parliament in 1985, amalgamating the former National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland and The Royal Scottish Museum. The National Museum of Scotland was formed in 2006 with the merger of the new Museum of Scotland, with collections relating to Scottish antiquities, culture and history, and the adjacent Royal Museum (so renamed in 1995), with collections covering science and technology, natural history, and world cultures. The two connected buildings stand beside each other on Chambers Street, by the intersection with the George IV Bridge, in central Edinburgh.
The National Museum incorporates the collections of the former National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland, and the Royal Museum. As well as the national collections of Scottish archaeological finds and medieval objects, the museum contains artefacts from around the world, encompassing geology, archaeology, natural history, science, technology, art, and world cultures. The 16 new galleries reopened in 2011 include 8,000 objects, 80 per cent of which were not formerly on display. One of the more notable exhibits is the stuffed body of Dolly the sheep, the first successful clone of a mammal from an adult cell. Other highlights include Ancient Egyptian exhibitions, one of Elton John's extravagant suits and a large kinetic sculpture named the Millennium Clock. A Scottish invention that is a perennial favourite with school parties is The Maiden, an early form of guillotine.
The galleries in the newer building present Scottish history in an essentially chronological arrangement, beginning at the lowest level with prehistory to the early medieval period, with later periods on the higher levels. The Victorian building, as reopened in 2011, contains four zones (each with numerous galleries), covering natural history, world cultures (including galleries on the South Pacific, East Asia, and Ancient Egypt), European art and design, and science & technology. The Grand Gallery contains a variety of large objects from the collections, with a display called the "Window on the World" rising through four storeys, or about 20 metres, containing over 800 objects reflecting the breadth of the collections. Beyond the Grand Gallery at ground level is the "Discoveries" gallery, with objects connected to "remarkable Scots ... in the fields of invention, exploration and adventure".
Notable artefacts include: Assyrian relief of King Ashurnasirpal II and a court official, from the North-West Palace of Ashurnasirpal at Nimrud, excavated by Austen Henry Layard in the 1840s; the medical pioneer James Young Simpson gave the panel to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, who passed it into the national collection. Monymusk Reliquary. St Ninian's Isle Treasure. 11 of the Lewis chessmen. (The rest are owned by the British Museum). Celtic brooches, including the Hunterston Brooch. Torrs Pony-cap and Horns. Pictish stones, such as the Hilton of Cadboll Stone, Woodwrae Stone, and Monifieth Sculptured Stones. the Cramond Lioness, Newstead Helmet and other items from the Roman frontier. Whitecleuch Chain. Migdale Hoard. Bute mazer. Sculptures by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, housing prehistoric jewellery. A Union Flag and Scottish Flag raised by the Hanoverians and Jacobites respectively at the Battle of Culloden.
There is also Captain Cook's Shelton regulator clock and a GE 950, the oldest colour television model in the world. There is level access to the Museum via the main doors to the Entrance Hall on Chambers Street and the Tower entrance at the corner of Chambers Street and George IV Bridge. Wheelchairs are available for loan at no charge. On arrival, ask at the Information Desk. Please note wheelchairs cannot be booked in advance. Lifts are available to all floors and there is a variety of seating throughout the museum. Accessible toilets are also available on most floors. You can download a map of the museum to see the exact locations of the lifts and accessible toilets. There is an induction loop at the Museum Information Desk. To arrange a tour with handling opportunities or BSL interpretation, please email email@example.com or call 0131 247 4041, giving at least three weeks’ notice. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF
Transport: Waverley (National Rail) 12 minutes. Bus Routes : 23, 27, 29, 41, 42 and 67 stop close by
Opening Times : Daily 10:00 to 17:00
Tickets : Free; Donations Welcome.
Tel: 0300 123 6789