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Curators from across our museum work in contemporary collecting. In these blog posts, you can explore reflections from different collecting perspectives.

Read about reflections on how collecting the present continually informs understandings of the past, and sometimes provides glimpses of the future.

Learn about approaches to contemporary collecting that are rooted in stories of people and place, in Scotland and across the world. Delve into a world of objects that throw light on and pose questions about the ever-shifting way we live now.

Explore some highlights below or visit our blog to browse them all.

Christopher Breward Portrait Neil Hanna August 2020

Collecting the present

Director of National Museums Scotland, Dr Chris Breward, reflects on the role of contemporary collecting in reflecting the social issues affecting our society today.

Read Chris's blog post

Period products for a 21st century Scotland

What can a group of period products say about the social and environmental concerns of Scotland today? Georgia Vullinghs discusses some recent acquisitions relating to the campaign against Period Poverty and access to menstrual products in Scotland.

Read Georgia's period products blog

Collecting a New Past

Museums have long been interested in collecting material culture of the present. ‘Contemporary collecting’ has been given renewed attention as a specific approach to building museum collections. Georgia Vullinghs explores ways of collecting the present with the future in mind.

Read Georgia's blog post

A badge of honour

The symbolic nature of jewellery has allowed wearers to signal their beliefs, alliances and values for thousands of years. Sarah Rothwell explores our recent acquisition of a brooch telling the defiant story of women’s suffrage.

Read Sarah's blog post
Contemporary Collecting The Present Gaelic Road Sign Landscape 768X432

Gaelic-English road sign

Curator of Modern and Contemporary History, Sarah Laurenson, reveals how a humble road sign can reflect language, tradition and legislative change.

Read Sarah's blog post
Glass sculpture - 'Back to Black' by Christopher Day

Making 'Back to Black'

Glass artist Christopher Day uses his craft to navigate what it means to be black in the UK, investigating complex topics and social tensions through the use of the personal. In this post, Chris explores his practice through the process of making 'Back to Black', a piece we recently acquired.

Read Christopher's blog post
Beaked Whale1 660X437

A Cuvier's beaked whale catastrophe

By the end of October 2018, almost unnoticed in the press and on radio and TV, almost 100 whales had been found washed ashore along the west coasts of Ireland and Scotland.

Read Georg's blog post
Group of nine women standing on the shore of a river on a sunny day. All facing forward, colourfully dressed.

Women, identity, textiles and heritage in Mozambique

Curator of African Collections, Sarah Worden, shares the latest activity in a collaborative project exploring the relationship between tradition and change in the lives of women in Mozambique.

Read Sarah's blog post
Empire Cafe Tea Set 2

A tea set that helps us rethink the past

Read curator of Modern and Contemporary History, Dr Sarah Laurenson's blog on the Empire Café; a space dedicated to discussing Scotland’s links with transatlantic slavery.

Read Sarah's blog post
Emas 768X1025

Edinburgh Modular Arm System

The Edinburgh Modular Arm System (EMAS), built in 1998, was the world’s first bionic arm. It was acknowledged in the Guinness Book of World Records as the ‘the most successful false arm’.

Read Sophie's blog post

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