With its soaring pillars and high windows, the light-filled atrium of the Grand Gallery is one of Scotland’s most beautiful spaces, and provides a spectacular start to your Museum visit. Your journey from Scotland to the world begins here.

The dramatic objects on display – from a huge 12-foot long South Pacific feast bowl to a 19th century lighthouse lens – provide a  vivid introduction to the National Museum of Scotland and the rich and diverse collection housed here.

Window on the World

Rising up through the four storeys, the Window on the World is the largest single museum installation in the UK. The display celebrates the variety and scope of the Museum, showcasing a spectacular array of over 800 objects drawn from a wide range of cultures and disciplines, from tiny glass sculptures to a girder from the original Tay Bridge, whale bone scrimshaw to Art Nouveau design.

Walk through the Grand Gallery and you’ll find the extraordinary Millennium clock, which comes to life on the hour with whirling figures, stirring music and dancing lights.

Window on the World (1)

Above: The Window on the World.


Beyond lies Discoveries. Here you’ll meet the Scots whose ideas, innovations and leadership took them across the world. Inventors, diplomats, military leaders, adventurers or the celebrities of their time: intriguing objects reveal the stories of their lives and achievements. From the coffin of an Egyptian priest to a vast limestone mural from the palace of an Assyrian king, the oldest surviving colour television to a specimen of penicillin inscribed by Alexander Fleming, the displays recognise the enormous impact of Scots around the world.

Iufenuman in the Discoveries gallery

Above: Iufenuman the mummy priest in the Discoveries gallery.

On display

Alexander Dalrymple's portrait

Scottish-born Alexander Dalrymple was a significant figure in Britain’s maritime history.

Assyrian relief

The panel was given to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1865 by Sir James Young Simpson.

Blaschka models

Discover how these amazing glass models have been educating and inspiring visitors for almost 150 years.

Cockcroft-Walton generator

The Cockcroft-Walton generator was developed at the University of Cambridge in the early 1930s to accomplish the first artificial splitting of the atom.

Colour television

This is the oldest surviving colour television in the world. It uses a colour system invented in 1937 by Scottish engineer John Logie Baird.

Culture vessel

This simple looking object made it possible for the first clinical trials and batch production of penicillin to take place. Its design marks a significant milestone in the history of medicine.

Feast bowl

This massive feast bowl, known as an umete, comes from Atiu, one of the Cook Islands in the South Pacific.

Fossilised tree slice

A slice of history preserved thanks to Scottish naturalist and conservationist John Muir.


Discover the story of the people who designed, built and operated Scotland's lighthouses through the objects which brought their role to life.

Millennium clock tower

The millennium clock tower marks the passing of time but is also a summary of the best and worst of the 20th century.

Moby the whale

Discover how the skull of a 40ft whale, which captured the heart of the nation, has become a permanent feature at the National Museum of Scotland.

Model of Stephenson's Rocket

This detailed model of Stephenson’s groundbreaking steam locomotive represents a major step forward in the history of transport.

Napier's bones

Napier’s ‘bones’ or ‘rods’ are just one of the methods invented by the Edinburgh-born Renaissance scholar John Napier to speed up calculations.

Pembridge helm

This 14th-century great helm belonged to one of King Edward III's knights, Sir Richard Pembridge, who fought in the Hundred Years' War between England and France.

Sea chest presented to Admiral Cochrane

Seaman, nobleman, warrior, engineer, radical, convict, hero: the impact of Thomas, Lord Cochrane, was felt across the world, and his life inspired some of the great stories of adventure fiction.

Seringapatam sword

This splendid sword was a gift to celebrate a historic military victory over the ‘Tiger of Mysore’.