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Exhibition National Museum of Scotland

Wild and Majestic: Romantic Visions of Scotland

26 Jun - 10 Nov 2019

Exhibition Gallery 1, Level 3

Ticketed, Members free


This exhibition has now closed.

Dramatic highland landscapes, heroic histories, tartan and bagpipes are among the defining images of Scotland for many people around the world today. This exhibition considered the origins of these ideas and explored how they were used to represent Scotland around the world.

From the Romantic movement of the 18th and early 19th centuries to Queen Victoria’s highland idyll at Balmoral, Wild and Majestic considers the origins of these ideas and explores how they were used to represent Scotland around the world, expressed through highland and military dress, royal visits, art, literature and the beginnings of the Scottish tourism industry.

John Knox, 'Landscape with Tourists at Loch Katrine', oil on canvas, 1815 © National Galleries of Scotland.


Featuring rich displays and iconic objects, this landmark exhibition charts Scotland’s journey into the global imagination and invites you to think again about the meaning and relevance of ideas that continue to define Scotland today. 

  • Painting of a man playing the bagpipes in the countryside. He is wearing a uniform of red tartan.

    Painting of the Laird of Grant's Piper, William Cumming by Richard Waitt, 1714.

  • John Knox, 'Landscape with Tourists at Loch Katrin', oil on canvas, 1815 credit National Galleries of Scotland.jpg

    John Knox, 'Landscape with Tourists at Loch Katrin', oil on canvas, 1815 © National Galleries of Scotland.

  • Ledgers-of-tartan-samples-formed-by-the-Highland-Society-of-London-1500px.jpg

    Ledgers of tartan samples formed by the Highland Society of London, c. 1820.

  • Glass-used-at-the-banquet-given-in-honour-of-George-IV-during-his-visit-to-Edinburgh-in-1822-1500px.jpg

    Glass used at the banquet given in honour of George IV during his visit to Edinburgh in 1822.

  • part-of-the-uniform-of-a-member-of-the-Royal-Company-of-Archers-c1820-1500px.jpg

    Part of the uniform of a member of the Royal Company of Archers c1820.

  • Set-of-Highland-bagpipes-of-laburnum,-silver-and-ivory-mounted,-with-Royal-Stewart-tartan-cover,-Edinburgh-c1850-1500px.jpg

    Set of Highland bagpipes of laburnum, silver and ivory mounted, with Royal Stewart tartan cover, Edinburgh c1850.

  • Silver-plaid-brooch-set-with-a-cairngorm-in-the-centre-and-a-ring-of-sixteen-carbuncles-round-it,-worn-by-the-chiefs-of-Clanranald,-mid-19th-century-1500px.jpg

    Silver plaid brooch set with a cairngorm in the centre and a ring of sixteen carbuncles round it, worn by the chiefs of Clanranald, mid-19th century.

  • Sword-of-MacGregor-of-MacGregor,-worn-at-1822-visit-Scottish,-Edinburgh,-probably-by-Marshall-and-Son-1500px.jpg

    Sword of MacGregor of MacGregor, worn at 1822 visit Scottish, Edinburgh, probably by Marshall and Son, c1822.

  • John Knox, 'Landscape with Tourists at Loch Katrin', oil on canvas, 1815 credit National Galleries of Scotland.jpg

    John Knox, 'Landscape with Tourists at Loch Katrine', oil on canvas, 1815 © National Galleries of Scotland.

  • PF1053960

    The Royal Company of Archers was the official King’s Body Guard during the royal visit. Their uniform, pictured here, was redesigned for the event to appear more romantic, with puffed sleeves, a large neck ruff and eagle feathers fixed to the bonnet brim.

  • Tartan Dress Worn By Mrsmacpherson

    Woman's high-waisted dress of silk, with a lace-trimmed bodice and a band of white satin on the skirt, worn by Mrs Macpherson of Cluny: Scottish, 1832.

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National Museums Scotland has partnered with Sabhal Mòr Ostaig College on Skye, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), on the production of content for the exhibition. Gaelic language and culture feature throughout the exhibition, with the main narrative presented in both English and Gaelic. 

Each section of the exhibition includes exploration of themes from a Gaelic-cultural perspective, and throughout the exhibition filmed interviews reflect a range of perspectives, including Gaelic voices, on some contested historical themes about the period.

The relationship between objects and the history of the Gaelic language is shown through a rich selection of material.

The Red Book of Clanranald

Above: The Red Book of Clanranald, written in Gaelic by the bards of Clanranald in the 17th and 18th centuries, containing poems and the traditional genealogy and history of the Macdonalds, one of the manuscripts which James McPherson consulted whilst researching Ossian.

Visitors' views

'Very enlightening'

'It has changed my way of thinking'

'I particularly loved the tartan dresses'

These are just some of the ways visitors have described the Wild and Majestic: Romantic Visions of Scotland exhibition.

Visitors' views in Gaelic

Wild and Majestic reviews



The Scotsman

'important and ambitious'


The List



Mail on Sunday

'Pleased to see so much Gaelic included in the Exhibition and the videos."


'Excellent and thought-provoking'


'Loved it! So much to see – very in-depth.'


'Very well curated and designed exhibition. Its message is important.'


'Lovely and beautifully presented… Loved the dresses.'


'Inspiring, fantastic and exciting!'


'This gave context to the fantasy of Scotland the world enjoys.'


'Excellent and complex history.'


'Absolutely wonderful and full of history that brings a picture of Scotland I haven't thought of before. Very well done.


'Comprehensive, thoughtful and subtle, an excellent exploration of the theme well illustrated.'


'Absolutely wonderfully presented.'


'Jaw dropping!! The costumes are amazing.'


'Cleverly presented… I leave enlightened and happy.'


'Excellent with a powerful cathartic end.'


'Bagpipes are loud arnt they?'

'A gorgeous exhibition… highly recommended'

@ScotsWhaEat via Twitter


'If you’re in Edinburgh for even a day, check out @NtlMuseumsScot’s special exhibit “Wild and Majestic”. It's deep & utterly brilliant in explaining through history why so many think of Scotland only as the Highlands, and so much more.'

@DianeMagras via Twitter


'Feel this should be a permanent feature – understanding how Gaelic Highland culture was suppressed & repackaged is crucial to Scotland's story.'

@TheCastleHunter via Twitter


'Really enjoyed the @NtlMuseumsScot #WildAndMajestic Exhibition. Good look at the blurring of Highland culture in to Scottish culture.'

@CCassidy11 via Twitter


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National Museum of Scotland
Chambers Street


Map and directions

We want everyone who comes to our museums to enjoy their time with us and make the most of their visit. 


  • There is level access to the Museum via the main doors to the Entrance Hall on Chambers Street and the Tower entrance at the corner of Chambers Street and George IV Bridge. 
  • Lifts are available to all floors and accessible toilets are available on most floors, as well as a Changing Places (U) toilet in the Entrance Hall on Level 0.
  • There is an induction loop in the Auditorium.
  • Guide dogs, hearing dogs and other recognised assistance dogs are admitted.


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Header image: Colonel William Gordon of Fyvie by Pompeo Batoni © National Trust for Scotland, Fyvie Castle.

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