Discover Edinburgh Things to Do in Edinburgh Museums National Museum of Scotland


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1 Chambers Street,
Edinburgh EH1 1JF

Tel : 0300 123 6789

Admission is free.

Uncover the history of Scotland and its civilisation at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh's Old Town where you will experience a comprehensive and captivating insight into the formation of its majestic landscapes, its people and its rich heritage. Completed in 1999, the striking edifice that houses the museum's magnificent collection blends harmoniously with the surrounding environment of Edinburgh's Old Town with traces of traditional Scottish buildings inherent in its design.

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Within the museum, visitors are invited to browse through its magnificent collection in contemporary and spacious surroundings, with each gallery appointed and designed according to the theme of its exhibits. Spanning 3 floors, The Museum of Scotland co-ordinates each gallery in chronological order, commencing with the origins of Scotland's awe-inspiring natural environment and mountainous landscapes that has attracted and inspired visitors the world over. Located on the eastern section of the ground floor, The Beginnings Exhibition unveils the evolution of Scotland's topology and climate through its geological collection of rocks. Equally, this section depicts Scotland's flora and fauna from the last Ice Age to the present day, featuring an evidence trail that substantiates the history of Scottish Wildlife through a collection of tactile specimens, models of extinct species and a series of audio-visual interpretations.

Discover the nation's earliest civilisations and how they survived in often inhospitable conditions from 8000 BC onwards, marking the beginning of human settlement in Scotland. This intriguing exhibition is a favourite amongst anthropologists and humanity enthusiasts, exploring themes such as human interaction and contact with communities, land resources that ancient people had at their disposal, social hierarchy and spirituality. Each exhibit features a map and timeline to illustrate where the specified object was found and to pinpoint its estimated date of origin throughout this captivating odyssey into the life of Scotland's ancient people.

The turning point of Scotland's somewhat chequered past is highlighted at the Scotland Transformed exhibition on the third floor, where you can bear witness to a magnificent exhibit of the Royal Arms, a motif symbolising the unification of Scotland and England in 1707. Visitors can discover the change of Scotland's social fabric from a largely agrarian, medieval society to a modern nation that embraced new technologies and ways of life. Examine the new political structure of Scotland under governance of United Kingdom's Parliament and explore the power and strong influence of the Church of Scotland in 18th and 19th Century Scotland.

As one of the world's leading industrial powerhouses, The National Museum of Scotland sheds light on Scotland's rich industrial past through an exquisite array of artefacts pertaining to various heavy industries that were conducive to the country's prosperity from the late 19th Century. Aptly named 'The Workshop of the World', three of Scotland's most significant industries are depicted in the museum, namely shipbuilding, railway engineering and the production of Scotland's eau de vie, whisky. As a longstanding contributor to the Scottish economy, whisky distilling streamlined into an industrial scale from the late 19th century onwards and various mechanisms from the Glenfiddich Distillery, North East Scotland are exhibited to including an old copper wash designed to a traditional standard. The Ellsemere Steam Locomotive is undoubtedly the most conspicuous and prominent exhibit of this fine industrial collection, locally built in Leith Engine Works in 1861.

Housing Scotland's finest collection of national treasures, The National Museum of Scotland invites the curious and cultivated visitor to explore this much-loved nation free of charge through a remarkable timeline stretching back to hundreds of million of years ago until the present day. Embracing various aspects of Scotland's eventful and often tumultuous past, this national museum of global renown is inspiring and educational in every sense, showcasing the ultimate Scottish experience in the heart of Scotland's Capital.