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A member of our visitor services team chats with two visitors in the Animal World gallery.

Two visitors chat with a member of our Visitor Services team.

© Ruth Armstrong Photography

Staff Picks Trail

Two visitors chat with a member of our Visitor Services team.

© Ruth Armstrong Photography

We asked our colleagues to tell us the exhibits or spaces they love the most and here are 10 of their top picks. Some might be really familiar but there might be others that you’ve never noticed before!

Map of Level 1 of the museum showing the stops of the staff picks museum trail

1. Grand Gallery

Location: Grand Gallery, Level 1

While you’re here look out for the limestone floor. This is often a real surprise to visitors on tours, that the floor is itself an 'object'. It was quarried in Southern Germany, and dates to around 150 million years ago You can see it’s full of fossils, such as ammonites 

Philip, Volunteer guide

2. Ritchie Clock

Location: Grand Gallery, Balcony, Level 3 

At the west end of the Grand Gallery the Ritchie Clock is a fine example of craftsmanship that is often missed or passed by as visitors move around.It was made by Edinburgh clockmakers James Ritchie & Sons early in the 1920s so must be almost 100 years old.  

Tim, Visitor Experience

3. Rossend Castle ceiling

Location: Kingdom of the Scots gallery, Level 1 

Mary Queen of Scots was known to have visited Rossend Castle in Fife, and had a bed chamber there. This is the original ceiling from the castle.

On 14 February 1562, Pierre Chastelard, a French messenger and poet was discovered hiding under Mary's bed in the Castle. Monsieur Chastelard was infatuated with the young Queen.

I love telling this story to visitors who want to know about Mary. It's a great ice breaker.   

Kenny, Visitor Experience

4. A la Russe hat


Location: Fashion and Style gallery, Level 1

I like that this hat is contemporary but traditional, made specifically for this gallery, and the idea of spring succeeding winter captures a sense of optimism.

Ellie, Development

5. Children's shoes from China

Location: Patterns of Life gallery, Level 1 

Tucked away in Patterns of Life are the cutest baby shoes you’ll ever see. These Chinese shoes are animal themed and were believed to protect babies from bad spirits. 

This gallery gives a fascinating snapshot of traditions from around the world - showing how different but also similar we all are - particularly when we think about the importance of families. These lovely shoes also make me think of my brother and his partner who are having a baby any day now!

Alex, Marketing

6. Inukshuk

Location: Living Lands gallery, Level 1 

One of the objects that I love most is the inukshuk, an Inuit way marker. I know that each time I see it, I feel I'm finding my way again.

Margaret, World Cultures

7. Giraffe

Location: Animal World

One thing I love most in the museum has to be the Giraffe. I always feel you can't pass it by without saying hello. Giraffes are just gentle giants who can eat up to 45kg of leaves and twigs a day. Their spots are like human fingerprints and no two individual giraffes have exactly the same pattern. 

 Tracy, Visitor Experience

8. Vampire squid

Location: Animal World

This Vampire Squid model is such a funny creature that I never knew even existed until a child visiting told me about it and we went on a hunt with his family to find it. I still think it’s slightly eerie but beautiful in its own way.

Sarah, Visitor Experience

9. Ocean sunfish cast

Location: Animal World

Suspended in the array in Animal World, is the cast of an ocean sunfishIt is a fish that loves warm, open oceans and lives on jelly fish.

When I started working at the Museum I saw this cast and thought it was broken – that the back end of the fish had dropped off and we’d have to do an urgent conservation job.

But, after a rather humbling conversation with my natural sciences colleagues, I learnt these fish really do have the strangest shape. It is as if a fish-head and tail were smooshed together. I also love that the sunfish’s favourite food is the moon jelly.

Chante, Collections

10. Buddha statue

Location: Sculpture gallery, Balcony, Level 5 

The space I always look forward to connecting with is the top balcony of the Grand Gallery - where the Asian and European sculpture are located. The light and the views down and across are breath-taking.

Chris, Director

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