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Loans X.AS 10 Towie Ball

Items lent by National Museums Scotland

Objects from the National Museums Scotland collection can be found at museums throughout the UK and internationally. Recent international loans include loans to Venice, Madrid and Paris, and there are over 2000 objects on long term loan across Scotland and the rest of the UK.

National Museums Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery

National Museums Scotland has lent a large Imperial Chinese porcelain fish-bowl dating from 1567-1572 for long term display in the new Lee Kai Hung Chinese Culture Gallery. This gallery is part of Manchester Museum’s 15-million-pound refurbishment which saw the reopening of the Museum in February 2023.

A large ceramic bowl, almost as tall as it is wide, slightly tapered at the bottom. The bowl is decorated with a colourful painted scene of large flowers made to look like trees, water ripples, and birds.

Reiss-Engelhorn Museen, Mannheim, Germany

The Normans

18 September 2022 – 26 February 2023

National Museums Scotland lent one of the iconic Lewis chessmen to this comprehensive exhibition of the “Men from the North”. The exhibition looks at a geographical approach to exploring the mix of cultures brought about by trade and conquest. The Normans were powerful princes and rulers who left their traces all over Europe and beyond.

Lewis chess piece - carving of a man in a pointed hat

MK Gallery, Milton Keynes

Beyond the Page: South Asian Miniature Painting and Britain, 1600 to Now

7 October 2023 – 28 January 2024

National Museums Scotland lent 6 seventeenth century Indian miniature portraits to this exhibition which examines how the traditions of South Asian miniature painting have been reclaimed and reinvented by modern and contemporary artists.


A framed painting of an Indian Miniature Portrait

State Library New South Wales, Australia

Mobilising Aboriginal Objects - Botany Bay, Sydney and the "affiliated coastal zone"

June 2023 – January 2024

National Museums Scotland lent a shield and two clubs to this exhibition which brings together historic Aboriginal material culture held in museums outside of Australia. The loan enables a greater number of Aboriginal people to reconnect with their material heritage.


An aboriginal shield with carved patterns in the wood.

V&A Dundee


1 April 2023 - 14 January 2024

National Museums Scotland lent 19 objects to the Tartan exhibition. This includes paintings, prints, patterns for tartan fabric and historic fragments of tartan for this exhibition that celebrated tartan in all its forms. The exhibition took a radical new look at one of the world’s best known textiles and designs.

A painting of an Asian man in a blue tartan kilt.

Henry Moore Institute, Leeds

The Weight of the Words

7 July 2023 - 26 November 2023

National Museums Scotland lent a fibreglass sculpture Standing Heech by Iranian artist Parviz Tanavoli to this exhibition of international artists who explore the overlap between sculpture and poetry. 


British Museum, London

China's Hidden Century

18 May 2023 - 8 October 2023

This exhibition explores nineteenth century China through art, fashion and furniture, while also examining how technology transformed society. National Museums Scotland lent an exquisitely decorated headdress known as a phoenix crown made from blue kingfisher feathers and a selection of carved red lacquer boxes.


An intricately decorated blue headdress with cream beaded tassels

Kilmartin Museum, Argyll & Bute

After a major redevelopment, Kilmartin Museum reopened in September 2023 and National Museums Scotland lent 61 archaeological artefacts on long term loan. The new displays tell the story of the internationally important archaeological landscape of Kilmartin Glen. Artefacts on loan include axeheads, pottery, flints and carved stones.

A stone pillar with archaeological carvings

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