This has been an exceptional year for National Museums Scotland. Across our museums we have welcomed over 2.7 million visitors, 1.84 million of these to the National Museum of Scotland making it the most popular museum outside of London and the most visited attraction in Scotland.

A year in numbers

Connecting with audiences

Millions of people each year enjoy Scotland's National Collections. All four of our museums saw an increase in visitor numbers this year, with the National Museum of Scotland, National War Museum and the National Museum of Rural Life enjoying their highest ever annual attendance.

The National Museum of Scotland has established a year-round presence as a key venue for Edinburgh’s rich and diverse festivals.

“The Museum is fantastic – it’s great to be able to just wander and dip in and out of such a variety of things.”
– Museum visitor

A young visitor enjoys The Tomb exhibition. Over 100,000 visits made it the most popular exhibition to date at the National Museum of Scotland.

Above: A young visitor enjoys The Tomb exhibition. Over 100,000 visits made it the most popular exhibition to date at the National Museum of Scotland. Photo © Phil Wilkinson.

Beyond our walls

Our loans and touring programme makes objects from the National Collections accessible to audiences in communities nationwide, enabling as many people as possible to see them.

Our National Training Programme provides free collections knowledge and skills training for staff in museums across Scotland, while the National Fund for Acquisitions helps develop and enhance the collections of organisations across Scotland.

“It gave the Museum an opportunity to highlight an aspect of its own collections and re-ignite interest locally in fossils.”
– 
Linda Fraser, Museum Officer, Montrose Museum and Art Gallery

A workshop giving an introduction to Iron Age and Roman archaeology at the National Museums Collection Centre as part of the National Training Programme.

Above: A workshop giving an introduction to Iron Age and Roman archaeology at the National Museums Collection Centre as part of the National Training Programme. Photo © Neil Hanna.

Taking Scotland to the world

From touring exhibitions to collaborative research, we continue to promote our work on an international stage.

The American Foundation for National Museums Scotland enables us to build connections with audiences based in North America who have a strong interest in Scotland.

Photography of a specimen from Monkeys! A Primate Story before the start of the international tour.

Above: Photography of a specimen from Monkeys! A Primate Story before the start of the international tour.

Sharing Scotland's collections

With over 155,000 followers on social media our visitors enjoy sharing their experiences at our museums more than ever.

Reaching out

We are committed to working with diverse communities to create connections with the collections. You can find out more about our outreach projects here.

“This is a fabulous project that… has covered many areas – STEM, language, history of art, design, engineering, technology.”
– Mrs M Kelly, Teacher, Mauchline Primary School

Pupils taking inspiration from the jewellery on display in Making and Creating as part of the I Am Here project.

Above: Pupils taking inspiration from the jewellery on display in Making and Creating as part of the I Am Here project. Photo © East Ayrshire Leisure.

Enriching Scotland's heritage

Landmark acquisitions enhance the national collection. These include an exquisite vase designed by the gothic revival architect and designer William Burges (1827–81), and the Fettercairn Jewel, an exceptionally rare Scottish Renaissance pendant locket.

We have successfully raised £1.98 million enabling us to purchase the Galloway Hoard, the richest collection of rare and unique Viking-age objects ever found in Britain or Ireland.

Principal Curator of Modern and Contemporary Design, Dr Sally-Anne Huxtable presents the Burges vase.

Above: Principal Curator of Modern and Contemporary Design, Dr Sally-Anne Huxtable presents the Burges vase.

Making it happen

Our staff and volunteers are working together to ensure a sustainable future. We are working proactively to grow our membership, attract sponsorship, and maximise opportunities to generate income through projects, exhibitions and events, new partnerships and commercial activity.

Our dedication to working responsibly, ethically and sustainably, and the reduction in our carbon footprint, has resulted in National Museums of Rural Life, Flight and Scotland all achieving a Gold Award in the Green Tourism Business Scheme this year.

“Volunteering has overtaken my expectations… I strongly recommend being a volunteer at National Museums Scotland as there are plenty of activities and opportunities where your talents can be used.”
– Viktoria Urikova, Volunteer Gardener

Conservation staff working on a roll of ‘L’Eden’ block printed wallpaper for the Art and Design galleries.

Above: Conservation staff working on a roll of ‘L’Eden’ block printed wallpaper for the Art and Design galleries. Photo © Neil Hanna.

Future focus

The creation of two galleries showcasing our world-class collections relating to ancient Egypt and three major East Asian cultures – China, Japan and Korea – will mark the completion of our £80 million, 15-year Masterplan for the National Museum of Scotland.

In 2018, planning for the next phase of development will begin in earnest at the National Museum of Flight.

Artefact Conservator Charles Stable examining under UV light the funerary canopy of Montsuef, which will be displayed in the new permanent gallery, Ancient Egypt Rediscovered.

Above: Artefact Conservator Charles Stable examining under UV light the funerary canopy of Montsuef, which will be displayed in the new permanent gallery, Ancient Egypt Rediscovered.

With thanks

We are extremely grateful to the many donors how have so generously contributed to National Museums Scotland this year. You can find out more about ways to get involved and support our work here.


Header image: Gold bird pin and armrings from the Galloway Hoard.

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