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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.

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Cups, saucers and women’s right to vote

How might our design choices inform our values? Claire Blakey takes uses a recent addition to our collections as a lens to explore a group of radical ceramics for Women’s History Month.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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’.

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