Skip Navigation or Skip to Content
Catch up National Museum of Scotland

Museum Art Challenge 2020

28 Nov - 18 Dec 2020


For children and adults of all ages and abilities, our Museum Art Challenge ran from 28 November to 31 December 2020.

We know how much visitors love our yearly art competition, so this year we moved online. We asked you to make, draw or create an artwork at home inspired by our collections and share a picture of it with us. 

The weekly themes for the five week challenge included Decoration, Communication, Camouflage, Wings and Favourites. See some of the brilliant entries from this year's challenge below!


Laurinda Kelly- Visitor Experience Assistant

My role within the National Museum of Scotland involves welcoming visitors from all walks of life and contributing alongside many of my other colleagues in creating a great visitor experience.

One of the best things about working within the Visitor Experience Team is the daily opportunity, to bring our Museums and collections to life. I love sharing knowledge and stories both past and present with visitors and I look forward to learning something new everyday from various forms of interaction which often stems from a memorable visitor experience.

Model of the Carnyx by Tommy age 8.

I love this model of the Carnyx! Well done creating a real life model and one that actually sounds so close to the real thing. I can only imagine this must have taken some time and careful planning to achieve such an impressive piece of art. The best thing about it is that it made you smile in your photo Tommy and it made me smile too. It’s amazing!

When the owl sings the night is silent by Adri age 35.

What an interesting choice of medium to work with Adri. The way you have created such life with coloured pencil must be applauded. Your choice of composition draws the viewer intriguingly to the sheer warmth and charm that can so often be found in nature. A wonderful piece of art and so true life.

The Great Hall comes to life by Florence age 20.

When you let your imagination simply run wild. This piece of art is truly magical. Florence you really have created and captured a moment in your own unique style. I have often imagined decorating ‘The Grand Gallery’ but your art work has truly inspired my thoughts even more. ‘The Grand Gallery’ is by far one of the most iconic images of The National Museum of Scotland and for that reason alone I felt it had to feature strongly in my top five picks from the category ‘Favourites’ Sheer Beauty!

The Hunsterston Brooch by Nancy age 65.

My final choice must be this interpretation of the ‘Hunterston Brooch’ I love the fact that it was drawn from your window Nancy and included the background to where the brooch was found. As many of us are spending more time from home I personally seek to take inspiration from this piece of art and get creative from my own front room. I respect the way you have honoured such a magnificent brooch with your choice of Celtic script. A beautiful piece of art that will no doubt spring to mind, as I revisit such an exquisite artefact within our many wonderful collections.

Gill Albiston - Security Officer

The best thing about working at National Museums Scotland for me is that on a nightshift for the most part I have to Museum to myself and during patrols I get the chance to see the artefacts on my own.

Cat by Cara Maria age 5.

Cat inspired by the black cat from the National Museum of Rural Life. This a Unicorn Cat on the beach in the sunshine with my family. I like this artwork because it is colourful, bright and at this young age it is clever to be using perspective where the cat is the front focus.

Electric Freedom by Claire age 48.

How can a person have one favourite in a place of colour, imagination, wonder, culture, magic, learning and freedom. I like this artwork because I have my own interpretation of the sections and how they fit together, it is also warm, lively and I could spend a long time looking at it..

Scotland's favourite animal by Julie age 21+

I enjoy the linear simplicity from the artist which has created a high degree of flow and movement.

Lewis chess piece Bishop by Chris age 59.

I like the skill the artist has to create this image through ink up and transfer, I would like to find out what tool was used for the original cut-out before inking or was it not done the old fashioned way?

Muir by Valerie age 21.

Inspired by 1988 Jean Muir outfit with brooches. I love the vibrant tartan!. This is a lovely tribute to Jean Muir's work, the visual projection is a feast for the eyes.


Nathan White

Role: Visitor Experience, I’ll be around the Museum galleries helping visitors with questions or such about certain objects on display or information behind them.

My favourite thing about the work is the visitors who are clearly interested in a certain object or topic and when you help them find whatever they’re looking for, their eyes brightening up and the excitement they have. 

Top Picks:  I really liked these artworks because they all have their own little piece that helps them stand out from each other. Here are my top picks: 

'Supermarine Spitfire' by Aiden age 8

This one really stood out. I like that this little model has been crafted from various parts to make up the whole plane.


'Vulture' by Rustum age 12

I enjoyed this Vulture by Rustum (above) and the Crow by Tom (below) with how they’ve drawn the back of the birds, yet the details and positioning of it all lets you know what kind of animal it is and what’s going on in the artwork.


'Crow' by Tom age 48

'The Cuckoo and the Warbler', by Sue age 57 

I also found myself drawn to this artwork - the detail and positioning of the birds are all very well done.


'Concordia' by Valerie age 21+

Finally, the Concordia by Valerie is a very eye-catching and colourful piece that I find myself enjoying with how bright and striking it is, especially with the red planes against a blue and white background. 

Catherine Dickson

Role: I am a Learning Enabler, part of the Learning and Engagement team, based at the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh.  

I can usually be found creating resources for families and schools, as well as delivering school workshops. Due to the current situation we have launched our Digital School Sessions.

I really enjoy my job and it is difficult to narrow down just one aspect that I enjoy the most! If I had to use just one word to describe what I find most rewarding; it would be engagement. For me, this word summarises the role as I interact with; visitors, the museum collection, the topics they evoke and of course my colleagues.   

I am so pleased to see everyone's Museum Art Challenge submissions during this month, they have been fantastic. My educational background is in art, having studied a BA (Hons) in Fine Art and an MSc in Art History, Curating and Criticism, therefore, I am a big fan of anything creative.  

Top Picks: This week's theme was 'Wings', and it was difficult to narrow down only 5 favourites but here are my top picks: 

'Bee' by Aaron age 8

This artwork made me smile, I really like bees and they are so important to the environment. Both the subject matter and the warm colours reminded me of sunny summer days and of course our beehives at the National Museum of Rural Life! The amount of detail included, particularly the inclusion of the bee's sting, is impressive. Due to the scale of the bee, the yellow areas in each top corner look like two flowers in the background and provide lovely symmetry to the piece overall.


‘Chicken’ by Deborah age 53

This piece reminds me of the earthenware child’s ocarina in our World Culture Collection which happens to be one of my favourite items on display.  I really like how the freestyle stitching adds texture, making the piece appear very tactile, whilst helping to define areas such as the wing. 


'Butterfly’ by Hugo age 7

I think many of us will have spotted a butterfly, perhaps in a garden or even when visiting our outdoor spaces at the National Museum of Rural Life or the National Museum of Flight. We also have an extensive collection of butterflies at the National Museum of Scotland. I like Hugo’s butterfly painting for his bold choice of colours and his symmetry, I particularly like the fine detail of the head and antennae.


‘Baby Pterosaurs’ by Mary age 21+

We have examples of pterosaurs at the National Museum of Scotland and Mary’s representation of these prehistoric flying reptiles are very cute! I particularly like how each drawing have their own little characteristic and think the smooth, light blue background really helps them to stand out.


‘Macaw’ by Yaya age 9

What a wonderful representation of a macaw! I really like the use of the watered-down paint, which creates a lot of movement in the piece as though the bird is really flying. The fine ink line on top helps to define extra detail, especially the layers of feathers in the outstretched wings. 


Ross Combe

I am an Enabler in the Learning and Engagement team based at the National Museum of Flight. I’ve worked for National Museums Scotland for more than six  years now and enjoy the fact that no two days are ever the same. There are always new objects to learn about, fascinating stories to hear and different people to meet. I get to do lots of fun things such as science demonstrations, craft activities and delivering learning workshops. Before I worked in museums, I studied sculpture at Art School and still create things in my own art studio. I love that my job allows me to work with many of beautiful and unusual things and I find that this gives me lots of inspiration in what I do.

Several aeroplanes on display at the National Museum of Flight utilise camouflage and are designed to adapt to changing circumstances. I’ve been hugely impressed by the creative responses to this theme. I wish that I could share them all. Picking just a few of these to show has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do all year!

Bearly visible by Edi age 96

I really liked this because it is looks so magical, festive and dazzling.  Indeed, dazzle camouflage is something we see in nature and it has been adopted by armed forces throughout human history.  When I first saw this, I was both intrigued and confused and it made me slow down to take a closer look and to think about what it meant.  I love that art can have that effect on us.

Scout Trooper by Hugo age 7

I instantly imagined this figure moving around and making sounds.  It would make a great animation character.  Hugo has brilliantly managed to give so much detail to this trooper.  The type of camouflage used suggests to me that the mission for the trooper must be in an environment with lots of foliage that would provide them cover from their enemy- perhaps a forest or a jungle.  At the National War Museum within Edinburgh Castle, there are lots of examples of different kinds of camouflage uniform like this fantastic example.

The Iguana Girls by Mai age 5

I love the striking colours in this drawing and the feeling of movement too.  The pose of the Iguana Girls gives a great sense of their attitude and I could imagine these creations at a fashion show or on display in our Fashion and Style gallery on Level 1 of the National Museum of Scotland . The patterns remind us how camouflage is specific to the environment in which the animal lives.  When it is out of that context, it certainly has the opposite result and really stands out.  Perhaps that’s why designers are so drawn to camouflage.  I would love to see how someone would walk in those amazing shoes!

Invisible by Naia age 13

Sometimes the best art can shock and surprise us- making us think in new ways.  It can prompt us to make new connections between things.  This striking piece by Naia does both for me and is a truly original interpretation of the theme.  It made me think of the way that a white Polar Bear camouflages against the ice of the Arctic but also makes me think of the wonderful carved marble sculptures on level 5 of the Grand Gallery at the National Museum of Scotland.  The facial expression -almost as if she is meditating- makes me wonder what she is thinking about.  I love that it leaves me with that sense of mystery and leads to more questions.  

Snowy Barn owl by Shannon age 12

Not only is this illustration beautiful, it also communicates a great deal about the science of camouflage in nature.  The drawing is full of detail, texture and careful use of colour.  Shannon obviously understands that animals evolve to blend in to different environments and that this helps them to survive.  I particularly like that she’s included such delicate snow flake patterns on the left side.  It makes me feel cold on that side and the other side makes me feel warm.

Selene Neill

I work as part of the Visitor Experience Team at the National Museum of Rural Life and have been here for almost seven years. Welcoming our visitors and ensuring they get the most out of their visit is one of the main parts of my job.   I really enjoy meeting new people and passing on my knowledge of the collections, farm and animals.  I like that my job is is so varied - I can be greeting visitors at the ticket desk in the morning and surrounded by escapee piglets in the afternoon!   There are many different things happening at the farm throughout the year and it’s lovely to be able to share this with visitors.   My favourite part is being outside in my wellies embracing our good old Scottish weather and taking in the changing seasons.

Natural Perfection by Blanche age 52

I love the vibrant green of the background that Blanche has used here, it’s like the colour of our John Deere tractor! The camouflage style of the owl and butterflies reminds me of the birds and animals that hide amongst the hedgerows.

Autumn shine by Gay age 54

I find this very intriguing!  I love the textures and colours and it does remind me of the Autumn colours and weathered surfaces that are around me at the farm.  I like that it makes you think, is it a reflection of something or is it different coloured paints on the surface?

Southern Boobook owl by Julie age 56

The intensity of the owl’s green eyes, the sharp claws and beak stand out from the dark background here.   There’s a lot of time and work gone into this lovely piece of artwork and it makes you want to see what the owl has got it eyes focussed on! 

Dolly in the snow at Roslin by Mary age 21+

This makes me smile!  I love the simplicity and effectiveness of this.  Dolly looks very pleased with herself here and why shouldn’t she with her matching red hat and wellies!  I’m wondering if we could get similar winter outfits for our sheep here at the farm……

Westwood, Gaultier and Farquharson by Valerie age 21+

I specialised in textile design at art school many moons ago so that’s maybe why I’m drawn to the fashionable tartan hills in this piece! I love Valerie’s use of bright colours and the illusion she has given of the sun setting in the background. I wish I was there!


Dr Dan Potter, Assistant Curator, Ancient Mediterranean, Africa, Americas and Oceania

I help the museum to look after some of its collections by researching them, preparing them for exhibitions and helping my colleagues and visitors. I work with objects from ancient Egypt, the ancient Mediterranean, Oceania and the Americas. As you can guess, my days are very varied! This is one of the reasons I love my job; I can go from working on some ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs to measuring Fijian clubs or photographing Blackfoot moccasins from North America over the space of a couple of days.
I am an Egyptologist by training and had the great privilege of working with lots of museums across Scotland in the past couple of years to review all their ancient Egyptian objects, If you want to see the result of what I get up to behind the scenes, then why not visit our touring exhibition Discovering Ancient Egyptwhich is currently at the John Gray Centre in Haddington and learn about Scotland’s connection to Egyptology through the stories of three fascinating people.

Aidan, age 8, Sheepdog

There were so many great entries this week, colourful, varied and importantly fun! So here are five of my favourites. Aidan’s Sheepdog really made me smile, particularly the farmer whistling away with his flat cap and beard. A very happy looking sheep dog too! A wonderful entry for our communication topic. I’m a linguist at heart and did my PhD focusing on really tiny bits of language, so I have to include Charlotte’s entry. All those different languages and scripts on it are fantastic. I have now been playing the game of working out which is which. The only thing missing for me is some Egyptian hieroglyphs ;-)

Charlotte, age 10, Communication

Emoke’s work makes my top 5 with their ink telephone set. I really like the textures of the ink; I can almost hear the pen at work on the telephone cord. It’s a real skill to make something so realistic with one colour, well done!

Emoke, age 32, Telephone set

David’s fierce figure with the Deskford Carnyx has to make it into my list as I am always in awe of the control it takes to paint such small things. My friends Nick and Jay always had this skill, so I guess it made me think of them as well. The guy must be very strong to carry the Carnyx and a weapon!

David, age 29, Deskford Carnyx

Leanne, age 29, 100

I really enjoyed Leanne’s entry. Lots of colour, texture and lots of detail to delve deeper with. I’ve only got a picture on my computer though so I’d love to know what it looks like in real life and how it was made.

Ernest age 5, Lighthouse

My final choice is Ernest’s lighthouse. It must have been so much fun to make this, with all the paint and glue! When I was 5 I loved making paintings out of glue, some of which may still be drying to this day… A great lighthouse, worthy of joining any well-to-do modern art collection.

Julie Gibb, Assistant Curator of Science and Technology

You will normally find me working at the National Museums Collection Centre where most of our collections are stored. My work involves registering new acquisitions, improving object records and answering enquiries. Contributing to the exhibitions programme is a major part of my job, in recent years I’ve worked on exhibitions featuring microscopes, Victorian photography and lighthouses. We have some exciting exhibitions in the pipeline that I can’t talk about yet! I really enjoy this aspect of the job as there are so many stories in the collections waiting to be told. The part of the job that I love – and what I am really missing – is doing tours of the Collection Centre and delivering object handing sessions in the Museum of Scotland. I hope to meet visitors in person again sometime in 2021!

Angela, adult, Notebook made of floppy disks

I like how the artist has recycled the virtually obsolete floppy discs to create something useful.

Haniya, age 10, Lighthouse Lens

The Inchkeith lighthouse optic in the Grand Gallery is one of my favourite objects. By painting the lighthouse from a low perspective, the artist has given a sense of its scale. I love the colours they’ve used, it looks like the lantern is glowing. 

Lottie, age 11, Luckenbooth brooch

The artist has taken an imaginative approach to the communication theme. The brooch is very striking against the black background and the rhinestones add a nice bit of sparkle. This would make a lovely Valentines card!

Sarah, age 10, Satellite dish

This fabulous painting caught my eye straight away, the satellite dish could be sending and receiving information from a faraway galaxy hidden somewhere in that fantastic sky.

Trudy, age 9, Bad girl top

I love the humour in this drawing, it captures a moment of communication between two girls and I want to know what happens next in this story, please draw me the next scene!
Alternate Text

Search the Collections

Get inspiration for your creations by looking online.

Explore our collections
Our family programming is supported by players of People's Postcode Lottery  People's Postcode Lottery
Back to top