Across our museums we preserve, display and interpret the many ways in which people have used science and technology through the ages to investigate the world around us and to try to make our lives easier and better.

Our collections cover life, the universe and everything in it: from science and engineering to nature and outer space. Find out more about the diversity of our science collections, our research and our commitment to science communication through formal and informal learning.

Science engagement

Science engagement forms an integral part of our public programming, through innovative science shows, regular talks and lectures on science topics. As an active scientific research institution, we are able to draw on the expertise of our curatorial departments across the scientific disciplines and our Science Engagement Group includes colleagues from across departments acting as a forum for discussion and development.

Curators share their expertise with young visitors

Above: Curators share their expertise with young visitors.

Learning and Programmes

Our Learning and Programmes department has a wealth of experience in hosting public science events across our sites. We are a major partner and venue for the Edinburgh International Science Festival and collaborate with other leading institutions such as the University of Edinburgh and the Royal Observatory.

Through our informal and formal programming we deliver science engagement across wide-ranging and diverse audiences covering everything from DNA workshops for schools to large-scale public events such as Robots Live! at National Museum of Flight.

Animated T.rex at Robots Live!

Above: Animated T.rex at Robots Live!

We increase access across Scotland through the work of our Community Engagement Team and enable new audiences to engage with our science collections through innovative new areas of programming such as our multi-award winning Museum Lates.

Rock the Lab

Above: Science on the road with Rock the Lab.

Scientific research at National Museums Scotland

Our research unearths the significance of the millions of objects in our care and shares it with a wide audience, in Scotland and abroad. National Museums Scotland is recognised as an Independent Research Organisation by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The Natural Sciences department undertakes fundamental scientific research in a variety of areas ranging from understanding life in the past to how modern climate change is impacting species distribution today. We collaborate with many university partners and supervise undergraduate and graduate student projects.

Digitally imaging insects in amber

Above: Digitally imaging insects in amber.

Our Science and Technology department looks after one of the most significant collections in Britain. Our collection and research covers four main areas: science, transport, communication and industry and engineering.

The Collections Services department provides practical skills and advice to improve the preservation and accessibility of the National Museums Scotland's collections. The Analytical Research section examines archaeological and historical objects by scientific methods to gain information about their condition, technology, history and use.

Conserving the coffin of Egyptian priest Iufenamun

Above: Conserving the coffin of Egyptian priest Iufenamun.

Ongoing research projects

Here are some examples of ongoing research projects at National Museums Scotland: 

TWeed: Evolution's Missing Chapter

National Museums Scotland houses a world-class collection of Palaeozoic fishes and early tetrapods, which has been the focus of major research programmes by scientists around the world.

Read more about TWeed

Virginia Solite Quarry

The Virginia Solite Quarry is giving us a clear picture of life along the shores of an ancient lake around which some of the earliest dinosaurs roamed.Corophium volutator.

Read more about the Virginia Solite Quarry

Saline lagoons

In September 2012 our Invertebrate Biologists ran a survey of 23 saline lagoons in the Uists, Outer Hebrides. Fiona Ware explains more about the project in this blog post.


This project aims to explore well-known and forgotten 19th century Scottish manufacturing practices.

Read more about ReINVENT

Science and technology films

 You can watch short films about objects in our Science and Technology collection here.

Science engagement events

At National Museums Scotland we hold regular science-themed events, including talks, showcases and seminars. You can find full listings for our events here.

Missed our recent Understanding Technology lectures? You can watch them on YouTube here:

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