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Objects relating to contemporary science have been collected ever since the establishment of the Industrial Museum of Scotland in 1854. From the middle of the 20th century, the Museum also began actively to acquire historic scientific instruments. More recently, collecting has sought to reflect the social and cultural significance of science, both historically and today.
The collections are wide-ranging, representing scientific and medical research and their application in fields such as navigation and industry. There are significant collections of early photographs and photographic equipment, of lighthouse optics and models, weights and measures, medical prosthetics and laboratory equipment.
The oldest object in the science collections is an astrolabe made 1026-1027 AD in Islamic Spain, and the most recent include 21st-century Scottish research tools, such as a liquid handling robot used to help deliver drugs for clinical trials at the University of Dundee.
Objects from the Science collections can be seen on display at the National Museum of Scotland, particularly in the Science & Technology galleries and the Earth In Space gallery.
Looking for a particular object in our Science and Technology collections?Search our collections
Specific responsibility: Science collections, including astronomy, navigation, lighthouses, cartography, surveying, metrology, meteorology and oceanography.
Research interest/expertise: History of science 1600-1900; cultural and social history of science and technology; scientific instrument makers.
Specific responsibility: Science collections.
Research interest/expertise: Physical sciences and modern science.
Specific responsibility: Senior Curator of Biomedical Science.
Research interest/expertise: Contemporary collecting in biomedicine, patient experience, and prosthetics.
Specific responsibility: Curatorial support for science collections.
Research interest/expertise: History of Science collections.
Alison Morrison-Low is a Research Associate.
Dr Geoffrey N. Swinney is a Research Associate.
Project title: Science on Display: the Historical Relationships between Exhibit Label Texts, Scientific Objects, and Technologies at National Museums Scotland
Project title: Intellectual Properties: Transferring Science from Universities to National Museums Scotland