Skip Navigation or Skip to Content
National Museums Scotland aims to develop, manage, conserve and interpret the national collections, to ensure their preservation and benefit to the public.

Our fundamental mission is the advancement and dissemination of knowledge and understanding through access to its collections. The following policies guide our continued commitment to these aims and mission. Here you can discover more about our policies and download the full policy documents.

Collections Research

Collections research is one of the main ways by which we interpret and make accessible for all the past and present of Scotland, other nations and cultures and the natural world.  It ensures that public benefit is generated through the creation and dissemination of new knowledge about objects in the collection.

Download Collections Research Strategy

Research Ethics Policy

This framework for the ethical conduct of research within National Museums Scotland is also guided by principles of dignity, respect, selflessness, honesty, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, and leadership. 

The principles apply equally to staff and external researchers and this code forms part of National Museums Scotland policies on staff conduct and research.

Download Research Ethics Policy

Collections Development Strategy

This strategy sets out our ambitions, strategic context and over-arching principles and priorities for our collections. It includes an overview of the collections, priorities for future collecting and our legislative, ethical and procedural framework in compliance with the requirements of accreditation, the nationally agreed standard for UK museums.

Download Collections Development Strategy 2017-22

Collections Care and Conservation Policy

National Museums Scotland aims to achieve an appropriate balance between the use of, access to and preservation of collections. This policy sets out the principles governing our collections care and conservation work.

Download Collections Care and Conservation Policy

Collections Information and Access Policy

This policy sets out the principles by which National Museums Scotland will ensure that there are effective arrangements for collections information management and access to the collections.

Download Collections Information and Access Policy

Procedure for Considering Requests for the Permanent Transfer of Collection Objects to Non-UK Claimants

National Museums Scotland will consider a request for the permanent transfer of collection objects to non-UK claimants where the request meets certain criteria. This procedure outlines what these criteria are and, when they are met, how requests will be considered and managed.

Download Procedure for Considering Requests for the Permanent Transfer of Collection Objects to Non-UK Claimants

Human Remains in Collections Policy

This policy identifies collections made from or containing human remains as worthy of special consideration in regard to acquisition, curation and disposal (transfer). It outlines the procedures and processes that will be followed by National Museums Scotland with regard to requests or demands for the permanent transfer of such material from the permanent collection.

Download Human Remains in Collections Policy

Access and Benefit Sharing: Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol

Our diverse collections include natural sciences specimens containing genetic material which we collect, manage and care for in line with the laws and regulations relating to Access and Benefit-sharing, arising from the Nagoya Protocol and Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Nagoya Protocol is an international agreement designed to ensure fair and equitable access and benefit sharing (ABS) for the use of genetic resources. The Protocol requires all users conducting research and development of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, to demonstrate due diligence to ensure access and use is undertaken in accordance with the legislation of the country the resources originated from.

Our collections acquisition, access and management procedures follow the CETAFs Code of Conduct & Best Practices on Access and Benefit-Sharing.

It is the responsibility of all internal and external individual users / researchers of our natural sciences collections to comply with the Protocol.

For more information, please see the following guidance:

Collections Due Diligence

We are committed to developing our collections in compliance with all applicable laws and to the principles set out in Combating Illicit Trade: Due Diligence Guidelines for Museums, Libraries and Archives on Collecting and Borrowing Cultural Material (DCMS 2005) as well as the wider Statement of Principles published by the National Museum Director’s Council on the Spoliation of works of art during the Holocaust and World War II period.

We undertake provenance research and due diligence when acquiring, lending, borrowing and displaying collections, and adhere to the following principles:
• We will not accept a loan or acquisition of any object or specimen without confirmation that the donor, vendor or lender has valid and legal title to retain and transfer the object;
• We will exercise due diligence to establish the legal status of objects under consideration, making every reasonable effort to investigate and clarify the provenance of an object or specimen;
• We will document and preserve information obtained about the provenance of an object.

National Museums Scotland is an approved institution for the provision of immunity from seizure and acts within the parameters set out by the Department for Culture Media and Sport. More information on immunity from seizure and a list of objects protected from seizure can be found here

Back to top