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Objects that reflect major shifts in Scotland during the 21st century, or change our understandings of the past, can tell inspiring stories, now and in the future.

We collect objects that document the impact of major social, cultural, political and environmental changes in Scotland. The emphasis is on collecting material to represent what is distinctive about Scotland today in a global context, mindful of the differences within and across the country. A strong focus is on objects embedded with a sense of place, and on objects which link to existing collections to demonstrate how the past continually shapes the present


Collecting the Present: Tartan Today

Explore some of our contemporary collections of tartan and Highland dress, with 360° spins, image galleries, and a film series documenting tartan design, weaving, and kiltmaking in the contemporary Highland dress industry.

Tartan Today
Empire Cafe Tea Set 2

Collecting the Present: Empire Café porcelain tea set

This porcelain tea set was used in a pop-up café in Glasgow during the Commonwealth Games of 2014. Over the products of Empire – tea, coffee and sugar – visitors to the Empire Café discussed Scotland’s role in the transatlantic slave trade.

Empire Café tea set
A wooden board reading 'to summon Ulva Ferry uncover red panel. As boat approaches, return board to white. Tickets include access to all walks, sheila's cottage and Ferry crossing. Tickets (returns_ Adult £6.00, Child £3.00, Cycle £0.50.' There is a sliding panel that is surrently revealing a red square.

Collecting the Present: land reform

From drums to doorknockers, we have collected objects connected to community buyouts in Eigg and Ulva.

Scottish land reform
Collecting The Present Skis

Collecting the Present: Lonely Mountain skis

Two pairs of skis, a book which provided inspiration and an industry award have entered the National Collections, documenting the link between craft, landscape and climate change in Scotland.

Lonely Mountain Skis
Contemporary Collecting The Present Gaelic Road Sign Landscape 768X432

Collecting the Present: Gaelic-English road sign

Contemporary collecting provides a way of exploring and documenting the impact of changing laws and policies, as well as shifting attitudes, on communities across Scotland. Today, all of the signs on trunk roads across the North-West region of Scotland carry a place name in Gaelic first with English underneath.

Gaelic-English road sign
Eunice Olumide Press 1

Collecting the Present: Eunice Olumide, MBE

Eunice is a Scottish supermodel, broadcaster and curator who has worked for top designers including Prada and Alexander McQueen. She was awarded an MBE in 2017 for services to broadcasting, the arts and charity.

Eunice Olumide, MBE

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