National Museum of Scotland
- Box office 0300 123 6789
- Opening times Daily 10am–5pm.
- Admission Free.
- Website www.nms.ac.uk
In its landmark building, occupying more than half of Chambers Street, the National Museum of Scotland was formerly two different museums – the Royal Museum, built in 1861, and the more modern Museum of Scotland, completed in 1998. The facilities were unified in April 2008, although there is still a definite thematic separation: the former Royal Museum (complete with its grand Victorian Hall) has a worldwide and natural history focus, while the newer building maintains a distinctly Scottish viewpoint. Between the two is an interactive technology zone, filled with exhibits that form an easy connection between education and fun for children. They can race in a Formula 1 simulation, operate robotic arms and moon buggies, and discover the science behind solar and rock power. Dolly the Sheep also inhabits this space, as does the full-size Wylam Dilly locomotive. At the top of the spherical sandstone tower at the George IV Bridge end of the building is the Tower Restaurant, which has made a name for itself as a fantastic example of fine dining in the capital.
All our collections have tales to tell. See treasures from the edges of history and trace Scotland’s story from fascinating fossils to popular culture. For generations we’ve collected key exhibits from all over Scotland and beyond.
The fully redeveloped National Museum of Scotland opened on Fri 29 Jul 2011, following a major £46.4 million transformation. The museum is Scotland’s treasure house, where you can experience the whole world under one roof. There's brand new entrance hall with information desk, café, shop and cloakroom facilities and 16 new galleries, in which thousands of objects will be displayed for the first time.
Visit the new museum and discover the wonders of life, the universe and everything in it – from science and art to nature and outer space.
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There are 39 events at this location
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Amber is beautiful as well as fascinating. It consists of fossilised tree resin, and since resin in liquid form is sticky, and amber is transparent, this means that insects, animals and plant material sometimes get trapped in it and are preserved intact, giving us a glimpse of life millions of years ago. The whole process…
Sat 25 May
Sun 26 May
Mon 27 May
Antonia Fraser in Conversation
The historian and writer discusses her classic autobiography of Mary, Queen of Scots, published more than 40 years ago.
Art from Iran
Iranian metalwork and ceramics from the 13th to the 19th centuries.
Sat 25 May
Crowns and Coronets
Make your own royal headgear from craft materials and explore the symbols of Scotland's royal heritage.
A Cup of Friendship
Make your own quaich, a traditional Scots drinking bowl.
Edinburgh Lectures: Scotland's Forgotten Cats: A Tale of Two Kitties
Dr David Hetherington looks at the two feline species native to Scotland: the Scottish wildcat and the Eurasian lynx. The lynx is extinct, but the wildcat hangs on – although only with help from conservationists like Hetherington, who set up the Cairngorms Wildcat Project.
Thu 6 Jun
Famous People Collage
Cut out pictures of your favourite famous folk or characters from TV and film and make a collage for your bedroom wall.
Frame the Stars
Take along a picture of your favourite celebrity and make a silver photo frame so you can worship them on your wall.
From Castles to Camels: Scottish Silver, Its Makers and Their Marks
An illustrated talk by George Dalgleish, Keeper of Scottish History & Archaeology, on the work and lives of some of Scotland's historic goldsmiths from the 16th century to the present.
Fri 23 Aug
Free / 0300 123 6789
Geological Home Movies
Artist Ilana Halperin, whose exhibition The Library is currently running in the museum, curates a programme of films in which artists interact with geological processes (as she herself does). Artists include Joan Jonas, Seth Kelly, Allan McCollum, Takehito Shiina and a new work by Halperin herself.
Make your own goblet and adorn it with metallic paints and precious jewels.
Hallmarking, Heraldry and Hammermen
Once upon a time, Edinburgh and the Canongate were two different towns with separate silver hallmarkings. Make your own hallmark using traditional symbols or perhaps something more contemporary.
Hickory and Dickory Dock
Musical puppet tale about a how a wee village copes when the clocks go mad. Ages 4+.
Ilana Halperin: The Library
New work by New York-born artist Halperin, who is interested in the relationship between geological time and human experience. She's the first contemporary artist to receive an Artist's Fellowship at the NMS, and this exhibition features found objects, minerals, artworks created by natural processes and a 1.3-ton…
Sat 25 May
Sun 26 May
Mon 27 May
Make your own dinosaur mask and look around the huge prehistoric specimens.
Making Jewellery and Medals
A workshop to make your own medals and jewellery using various techniques. Tools and materials supplied. Suitable for the whole family (children ages 5+).
Making Jewellery in Metal and Other Materials
Use different types of coloured wire, stones and beads to make your own jewellery. All tools and materials are provided, although if you have some pliers please take them along. This adult workshop is suitable for beginners or those with some experience.
Mary, Queen of Scots
Was there ever a monarch as unlucky as Mary, Queen of Scots? Her father dies when she's six days old, turning his infant daughter into a political football. Then there are the increasingly inappropriate marriages to increasingly obnoxious husbands; the rebellions, the betrayals, more stabbings than any 24-year-old should…
Fri 28 Jun
Sat 29 Jun
Sun 30 Jun
Take inspiration from the silver collection to make your own hanging decoration. Use a range of craft materials to create something based on the theme of an opulent afternoon tea party.
Movements: Brian Eno
Music since recording is a new art form, which bears only as much resemblance to traditional, performed music as cinema does to theatre. What are the special characteristics of this new art? How did it evolve? Where might it be going? Brian Eno shares his thoughts.
Cybraphon, the autonomous and emotional robot band, joins the permanent collection of National Museums Scotland, and Alexander Hayward is joined by Professor Simon Kirby of FOUND, Mark Daniels of New Media Scotland, and Alison Taubman of National Museums Scotland to welcome it to its new home.
Movements: Devices of Wonder
Deus ex machina is probably one of the oldest dramatic plot devices. Professor of Theatre at Hull University Christopher Baugh explores some of the relationships between technology and performance and the ways in which new technologies are creating new forms of theatre. Chaired by James Robinson of National Museums…
Movements: From Stein to Steinway
The modern piano is as different from Mozart’s piano as a Mercedes from a horsedrawn carriage. But what effect did changes in the instrument have on the music written for it? Concert pianist Kenneth Hamilton, Professor of Music at Cardiff University, offers insights into three centuries of music at the keyboard. Chaired…
Movements: Irvine Arditti and Margaret Faultless
The Arditti Quartet’s acclaimed founding violinist, Irvine Arditti and Margaret Faultless, worldrenowned specialist in historical performance practice, discuss string playing techniques past and present in the company of BBC Radio 3 presenter Tom Service.
Movements: The New Leonardos
Hamish Innes-Brown from the Bionics Institute Melbourne draws on the experience of commissioning music for cochlear implant users to explore how artists utilise and influence technology. Chaired by Stephen Allen of National Museums Scotland.
Movements: Wind Instruments in Period Performance
Period performance has been famously dubbed ‘the most modern sound around’. Clarinettist and Director of the Royal College of Music Professor Colin Lawson discusses the value of using period instruments today with Alexander Hayward of National Museums Scotland.
Museum After Hours
Experience the museum after hours (with a bar, music and performers to boot) and get a chance to explore the new Mary, Queen of Scots exhibition, sans kids.
Sat 17 Aug
On Your Marks, Get Set, Read
Take inspiration from the patterns of objects in the silver gallery to make your own bookmark.
The Purse Bearer
Tom Murray, the Purse Bearer to the Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, explains his complex role.
Learn all about the importance of birds of prey in Scotland, historically and in the present day.
Spotlight On: Mary, Queen of Scots
Learn more about some of the key objects in the exhibition from George Dalgleish, Keeper of Scottish History and Archaeology.
Strings of Silver
Make your own friendship bracelet, perhaps as a gift, using silver beads, pearls and gems.
Tabanata Japanese Star Festival
Celebrate the seventh day of the seventh month by tying wishes to bamboo trees as part of this traditional Japanese celebration.
Tea Time in Miniature
Make your own doll's tea set from modelling clay to bake at home.
Time for Tea: Make a Mini Teapot
Make your own miniature teapot based on one created by a celebrity in the Silver of the Stars exhibition. Made from metallic clay, it can be finished off with a blast in the oven when you get home.
Time for Tea: Tasting
Learn about the origins of tea and its significance in the 18th century and taste some special varieties.
A Tour of the Library
Andrew Patrizio, professor and collaborator of Ilana Halperin, uses Halperin's exhibition The Library as a jumping off point to discuss the relationship between contemporary art and geology.
Try Your Hand at Chasing
Try your hand at the silversmithing technique of chasing at this family workshop.
Year of Natural Scotland at NMS
Celebrate Scotland's diverse wildlife and historic landscapes with an afternoon of activities.
Mon 8 Jul
Tue 9 Jul
Wed 10 Jul
Reviews & features
Preview: the National Museum of Scotland22 Jul 2011
A peek inside the museum, plus reminiscences from notable Edinburghers and a guide to coming events
The National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street is due to reopen this month after a three-year, £46.4 million redevelopment. David Pollock takes an exclusive peak behind closed doors to find out about the new exhibits
The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh16 Feb 2011
Newly renovated NMS showcases Scottish achievements
A country with as many scientists, inventors and explorers as Scotland needs a place to show off all its achievements – and nowhere does the job better than the newly renovated National Museum
National Museum of Scotland to celebrate start of renovations24 Apr 2008
The National Museum of Scotland will celebrate the start of the £46.4m Royal Museum Project renovations with a weekend of entertainment. The Red Hot Chilli Pipers will headline the event, which runs from Sat 26–Sun 27 Apr. See www.nms.ac.uk/celebration