National Museums Scotland is committed to encouraging all pupils to enjoy our museums. We now have a range of initiatives to support and welcome pupils with additional support needs to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Welcome to an unique world of learning, inclusive and accessible for all to visit. From self-led visits to workshops on our incredible collections, your pupils will be able to take part in hands-on learning experiences outside the classroom at the National Museum of Scotland.

You can book a self-led visit or take part in a workshop adapted to suit your pupils.

Resources

To help support pupils during their visit, we have developed the following resources:

Sensory backpack

A colourful sensory backpack is now available to borrow for free for pupils with additional support needs.

Sensory backpacks for autistic children are available to borrow

Above: Sensory backpack available to borrow.

This contains an appealing selection of items ranging from fun and soothing sensory toys to ear-defenders and dark glasses, and has been created to support and enhance the museum experience for pupils.

Visual museum communication cards are provided, enabling children to highlight particular objects of interest during their visit, while topic-specific books are included for a quiet moment of relaxation.

These resources can be requested when you book your visit to us. The backpack is available on a first come, first served basis and must be booked in advance when using with a school group.

Communication cards

Communication card showing Dolly the Sheep

Above: Communication card showing Dolly the Sheep.

A selection of visual communication cards (in the style of PECS) have been developed for some of our most popular objects in the museum. These are available to download before visiting to help with planning your visit and can also be borrowed from the Museum’s information desks.

Download communication cards

Visual Stories

The Museum has developed two visual stories featuring pictures of the museum and some information about what to expect when you visit. They are available in Powerpoint form so you can edit it yourself or in PDF.

1. For self-led visits

2. For workshops

 There is also lots of information available on the museum’s website. This also includes a short video (less than one minute) which shows you a number of the spaces in the Museum.

Download a map to show you possible routes around the museum, where the toilets are and where the different galleries are.

Large Print

Many of our galleries offer large print labels. Please ask upon booking as to which might suit your class.

We can provide resources beforehand such as trails or workshop booklets so you can enlarge and view before your visit. We can also provide some resources in larger formats.

Hearing Helpers/Induction Loop

Staff leading our workshops are happy to wear microphones provided. We also have a set of hearing helpers which staff can use during a session.

Our Auditorium has an induction loop. The sessions which take place in the Auditorium currently are Superhero Science Show and A Viking Day Out.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do we enter the museum?

Information about getting to the museum can be found here. All our entrances are wheelchair accessible.

You may wish to enter the museum via the Tower Entrance – this avoids the busy entrance hall by the main entrance and the need to go upstairs/lift to get into the main part of the museum.

Do you run workshops for pupils with additional support needs?

We can adapt some of our schools programme to suit pupils with additional support needs. Get in touch with us to discuss what sessions might suit your class: schools@nms.ac.uk

Find out more about our schools programme at the National Museum of Scotland here.

Is the museum noisy and busy?

It can get noisy and busy in the museum. There are also a number of exhibits that feature noises. Particular things to note include:

  • The Millenium Clock – this goes off on the hour and includes music, lights and moving parts.
  • The Ritchie clock in the Grand Gallery will make a sound every 15 minutes but it’s not too loud.
  • The hand dryers in the toilets are quite loud so please be aware if you are using these facilities.
  • The Imagine gallery and Performance and Lives both have musical instruments which can be played.
  • There are a number of audio-visual displays (videos) within the museum – if these are a problem a member of staff can advise of other galleries to visit.

In general, the Scottish galleries and the Art, Design and Fashion galleries are calmer spaces.

Is there a place to go if a pupil is distressed?

If at any time your child finds the visit overwhelming, a member of staff can direct you to quieter areas in the museum. A number of calmer spaces are also identified in the pre-visit visual story.

Who can I ask for help?

If you have any questions or problems during your visit, please speak to a member of our Visitor Experience team. They will be present throughout the galleries or at our information desks in the Entrance Hall, the Tower Entrance or outside the Level 3 Exhibition Gallery. The VE team wear purple shirts and navy blazers.

Visitor Experience staff at the Information Desk in the Entrance Hall

Above: A member of our Visitor Experience team at the Information Desk in the Entrance Hall.

You may also see members of our Learning Enabler team in the museum. They are situated in our family-orientated galleries (Imagine, Adventure Planet and Explore) and may also be running any workshops or sessions you've booked into. You can find out more about our schools programme here.

Family resources

The resources above are also available for families visiting the museum, so do mention to parents if your pupils enjoy using these.  

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