Thursday 8 September, 2016

Two months after ten major new galleries opened at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, the iconic visitor attraction is celebrating bumper visitor numbers.

There have been nearly 500,000 visits to the Museum on Chambers Street since the new galleries of applied art, design, fashion, science and technology opened on 8 July; an increase of over 30 per cent on the same period last year.

The £14.1 million redevelopment in the Museum’s 150th anniversary year is the latest phase in an £80 million masterplan to transform the Museum and showcase the breadth of its world-class collections.

Gordon Rintoul, Director of National Museums Scotland said;

“We have had a terrific summer at the National Museum of Scotland, since opening our ten new galleries. They allow visitors to explore our internationally significant collections like never before, and the response to them has been overwhelmingly positive. I am delighted that just two months after unveiling the galleries we have welcomed nearly half a million visitors.”

It has been a busy summer for the Museum following the opening of the new galleries, with a varied festival programme of events and activities taking place throughout August. The hugely popular Fringe showcase, Museum After Hours, returned, selling out all three events for the third year in a row. The Museum also played host to award-winning contemporary dance, a new partnership with the Gilded Balloon and three weeks of live music inspired by the five-star summer exhibition Celts.

Over 60,000 visitors have flocked to Celts, which closes on 25 September, while Fossil Hunters – which closed on 14 August – was the most popular free exhibition since the Museum re-opened in summer 2011.

Coinciding with the opening of the new galleries, a new public piazza in front of the Museum, featuring a newly commissioned statue of William Henry Playfair, was unveiled, transforming Chambers Street to provide a fitting setting for the Museum’s historic architecture.

For further information and images please contact Alice Wyllie, Press Office, National Museums Scotland, tel 0131 247 4288,

Notes to Editors

  1. National Museums Scotland is one of the leading museum groups in the UK and Europe and it looks after collections of national and international importance. The organisation provides loans, partnerships, research and training in Scotland and internationally. Our individual museums are the National Museum of Scotland, the National Museum of Flight, the National Museum of Rural Life and the National War Museum. The National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh houses conservation and research facilities as well as collections not currently on display.
  2. The National Museum of Scotland reopened in summer 2011 following a three-year, £50m redevelopment. With nearly 9 million visitors since reopening, the National Museum of Scotland is the most popular museum in the country outside of London (source: Association of Leading Visitor Attractions). The National Museum of Scotland was awarded ‘Gold’ Level Green Tourism Visitor Attraction status in 2016.
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