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National Museums Scotland Launches a Fashionable 2020 Programme

Wednesday 4 December, 2019

National Museums Scotland’s 2020 exhibition programme includes fearsome predators, iconic fashions and archaeological mysteries in highlight exhibitions Tyrannosaurs, Little Black Dress and The Galloway Hoard.

Dr Gordon Rintoul, Director of National Museums Scotland, said:

“National Museums Scotland’s collection is almost unique in its breadth and variety. Our innovative programme of exhibitions and events for the year ahead celebrates the diversity of our collection and curatorial expertise. In 2020 visitors will have the chance to explore the world of cutting-edge high fashion, discover fascinating insights into British military history and get up close to the most feared and revered dinosaur of them all.”

In 1926 Coco Chanel designed a simple, short black dress described by US Vogue as “the frock that all the world will wear.” Nearly a century later, the ‘little black dress’ has become a wardrobe staple, a symbol of femininity and a byword for chic. Little Black Dress (26 June to 25 October) will tell the story of this iconic garment in high fashion, consider the role it has played in society and look at how technology is enabling designers to challenge entrenched notions of classical dress and upgrade the little black dress for the future. On display will be 60 iconic looks, including significant historic pieces by fashion houses such as Chanel and Dior alongside recent work by contemporary designers like Gareth Pugh, Christopher Kane, and Comme des Garçons.

The most comprehensive exhibition ever mounted on tyrannosaurs will make its only European appearance when it opens at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh in January. Tyrannosaurs (23 Jan to 4 May) will explore the most feared and revered of all dinosaurs, bringing the latest discoveries in paleontology to life and challenging preconceptions about these ferocious predators. The exhibition will feature rare fossil specimens, cast skeletons including one of ‘Scotty’, one of the largest and most complete T. rex skeletons in the world, and incredible models of feathered dinosaurs.

The Galloway Hoard brings together the richest collection of rare and unique Viking-age objects ever found in Britain or Ireland. It is of international significance and will transform our understanding of this period of Scottish history. Buried at the beginning of the tenth century, it comprises in excess of 100 gold, silver and other items, some of which are unique. The Galloway Hoard: Viking-age Treasure (29 May to 18 October) will display the key elements of the hoard, place it in a wider historical context and showcase the conservation and research work which is being undertaken to understand the hoard and its secrets. Following on from its display in Edinburgh, it will tour to Kirkcudbright Galleries, The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum and Aberdeen Art Gallery. This tour is being funded with support from the Scottish Government.

The Declaration of Arbroath will be displayed at the National Museum of Scotland from 27 March to 26 April 2020, marking its 700th anniversary. The document has not been on public display for 15 years. The Declaration of Arbroath is one of Scotland’s most important historical documents, capturing a powerful call for the recognition of the Kingdom of Scotland’s sovereign independence.

Legacies of Empire (3 April 2020 to April 2021) will feature  at the National War Museum. It will examine the varied motivations and circumstances around the acquisition of objects during colonial conflict by individuals in British military service.  Showcasing the findings of a major Arts and Humanities Research Council Project, Baggage and Belonging: Military Collections and the British Empire 1750-1900. It will highlight collections arising from British military campaigns in Africa and India which are held by national and military museums in the UK. The appropriation of objects has been a common feature of the history of human conflict within and beyond Europe. The collecting of relics, mementos and memorials, as well as diplomatic gifts and the role of connoisseur collecting and purchasing of artefacts by officers stationed overseas will be explored. 

The full exhibition programme is;

National Museum of Scotland




The Luxury of Time: Clocks from 1550 to 1750

Until 26 January 2020


Chinese Oracle Bones

Until 29 March 2020


Parasites, Battle for Survival

6 December 2019 - 19 April 2020




23 January to 4 May 2020

Members free
Adult £12, Over 60s £10, Student, Unemployed, Disabled £9. Child (5–15) £6, Under 5s free. Family of 3 £22, Family of 4 £29. Carers of disabled people free

The Declaration of Arbroath

Friday March 27 to Sunday 26 April 2020


The Galloway Hoard

29 May to 18 October 2020


Little Black Dress

26 June to 25 October 2020


The Typewriter Revolution

24 July 2020 to 10 January 2021


National War Museum




Conscience Matters

Until 26 January 2020

Price included in admission to Edinburgh Castle

Legacies of Empire

3 April 2020 to April 2021

Price included in admission to Edinburgh Castle






Galloway Hoard

20 December 2020 to 21 September 2021

Kirkcudbright Galleries

Discovering Ancient Egypt

25 January – 30 April 2020

Perth Museum and Art Gallery

Discovering Ancient Egypt

9 May – 12 September 2020

John Gray Centre, Haddington

Monkeys!  A primate story

11 December 2019-  26 April 2020

Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona

Monkeys!  A primate story

12 June 2020 – 17 January 2021

Museum Centre Vapriikki, Tampere

Body Beautiful: Diversity on the Catwalk

8 February - 10 May 2020

Textilmuseet, Borås, Sweden

Body Beautiful: Diversity on the Catwalk

12 September 2020 – 16 January 2021

The Civic, Barnsley


Heritage Lottery Funded logo  People's Postcode Lottery Postcode Culture Trust logo  Baillie Gifford logo

19 November 2019


Further information and images from: Bruce Blacklaw, National Museums Scotland Press Office email  or telephone (0131) 247 4165.                 

Notes to editors

  1. National Museums Scotland is one of the leading museum groups in the UK and Europe and it looks after collections of national and international importance. The organisation provides loans, partnerships, research and training in Scotland and internationally. Our individual museums are the National Museum of Scotland, the National Museum of Flight, the National Museum of Rural Life and the National War Museum. The National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh houses conservation and research facilities as well as collections not currently on display.

Twitter: @NtlMuseumsScot
Instagram: @NationalMuseumsScotland

  1. Bheireadh Oifis nam Meadhanan eadar-theangachadh Gàidhlig den bhrath-naidheachd seachad do bhuidhinn mheadhanan bharantaichte. Cuiribh fios do dh'Oifis nam Meadhanan airson bruidhinn air cinn-latha freagarrach.
  2. The National Museum of Scotland is the most popular attraction in the UK outside of London (source: Association of Leading Visitor Attractions). The National Museum of Scotland was awarded ‘Gold’ Level Green Tourism Visitor Attraction status in 2016.
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