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Schools visits to the National Museum of Scotland

The natural world, world cultures, science, technology, design, art and fashion, archaeology and Scottish history – whatever your topic, come on a visit to find out more.

We currently offer self-guided visits to the museum only. Events and workshops will be available in 2022 but we are unable to take bookings for these at present.

What does a visit involve?  

A visit to the museum can be a unique, exciting experience for your pupils and can be used to explore a wide range of topics. The museum is available to visit free of charge for pre-booked school groups. 

Booking a general visit provides you with: 

  • Free entry to the museum 
  • Access to a range of resources you can use beforehand, or print and bring with to use during the day
  • Cloakroom and lunchroom space – these are currently unavailable but we hope to reopen in the near future  

The day is yours to plan, and we’ve provided some top tips below to assist you in doing this. Details about timings, directions, and risk assessments will be included in your booking confirmation. 

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Submit an enquiry about a schools visit.

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National Museum of Scotland

Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF
Tel: 0300 123 6789

Admission

Free entry

Opening times

Museum open
Open daily, 10:00 - 17:00

Closed 25 Dec
Open 26 Dec and 1 Jan, 12:00 - 17:00

Top tips for visiting National Museum of Scotland

Before you visit

Plan your visit in class using our welcome guide, visual story, or using Google Streetview. We have maps to help you plan your visit, including a Sensory Map.

Supervision

Pupils need to be supervised at all times when visiting the museum. We recommend splitting your class into small groups and choosing a visible meeting point, like the Lighthouse Lens in the Grand Gallery.

Don't miss

The Millennium Clock, just off the Grand Gallery, has music and a moving figures display just after the hour – don’t miss seeing it as part of your visit.

Resources

A range of different resources are available to use with your pupils to give  focus to your day, on topics such as ancient Egypt, Art and Design, Romans, Careers and Dinosaurs.

Preparing for your visit

What options are available for a visit?

Schools can book to visit the museum as a general visit, free of charge. Our programme of workshops, events and handling boxes will be re-launched in 2022. To request a visit, please complete the booking enquiry form. 

What can my class see and do?

There is so much to see and do your class can plan to spend a full day visiting the National Museum of Scotland:

How can I prepare my class for the visit?

Prepare your class for a visit by using our welcome guide in class:

The video below shows a school visit to National Museum of Scotland. We suggest you also read the general visit page for more information. You can also book a pre-visit to help you plan the day.

Do I need to book in advance?

To ensure your visit runs smoothly, all school visits to the National Museum of Scotland must be booked in advance. Please complete the booking request form.

How much does a visit cost? 

Pre-booked general school visits and downloadable resources are free of charge. 

All other events, activities and workshops have a cost. Details of costs will be confirmed once we reintroduce the programme in 2022. 

Your school will be invoiced after your visit. 

Do you run sessions or activities for pupils?

At present, we are unable to offer our usual programme of events and workshops. We're planning to reintroduce these in 2022.  

When should we arrive?

Please arrive at the time stated on your booking. This is to stagger groups arriving in our Entrance Hall (Level 0, Chambers St entrance) to allow for social distancing.

Can I download resources for my visit?

We have a range of resources available to use in both the classroom and museum. You can find them in the Learning resources section.

What measures are in place to ensure a safe visit?

A range of safety measures have been put in place in line with Scottish Government guidelines.  This includes face coverings, enhanced cleaning, sneeze screens and hand sanitising stations throughout the museum.  Please read our guidance before visiting with your group. 

We ask that you: 

  • Keep your distance from others. 
  • Use the hand sanitiser provided and wash your hands often. 
  • Face coverings must be work by visitors aged 12 and over, unless exempt. 

If a member of your group begins to display COVID-19 symptoms whilst in the museum, please alert the nearest member of the Visitor Experience team (dressed in navy/purple) immediately. 

National Museum of Scotland

During your visit

Is there parking for our bus or minibus?

There is a coach drop-off point outside the museum on Chambers Street.

Where can we leave our bags and coats?

At present, our cloakroom is closed. You will therefore need to carry your jackets and bags around the museum with you. Please do not bring any items to the museum that you are unable to carry during your visit. 

Where can we eat our lunch?

At present, our lunchroom is closed. There is no indoor eating space. Please factor this into your visit plans. 

Is the space we'll be visiting fully accessible?

The Learning Centre and galleries are fully accessible via lifts and we have accessible toilets on all levels. There is a Changing Places (U) toilet in the Entrance Hall on Level 0. 

Please read our information for visitors with access needs. 

Can I take photographs?

We are happy for you to take photographs, including flash photography, in the general museum. Photography is not permitted in special exhibitions, unless otherwise stated. If you wish to take a photo of a member of museum staff, please ask their permission before doing so.  

In addition, we may also wish to take photographs of you and your group. We will always discuss with you in advance and will supply a photography permission form for you and your class to be completed prior to visiting. 

Is there a shop/café?

There is a Museum Shop in the Entrance Hall, Level 0 (please ensure there is a ratio of 1 adult to 10 children when in shop). 

There is a café on the Level 3 balcony, overlooking the Grand Gallery. Take-away tea/coffee/liquids are not permitted in the museum.  

What safety guidelines should we follow around COVID?

Ensure everyone attending, including adults, are aware of our guidelines including wearing a face mask.  Please read our guidance ahead of your visit.  Please be aware that all our bookings will comply with Scottish Government guidelines and NHS Scotland Test and Protect. 

Risk assessments

You can download our guidelines for teachers to help you write your own risk assessment. Teachers can make a free pre-visit to carry out their own risk assessment. 

Do you have behaviour guidelines?

We have developed an agreement which sets out what we aim to offer during your visit, and in return what we ask from you. We ask that pupils visiting in school groups are accompanied at all times during their visit at a ratio of: 

1 adult: 5 pupils (under the age of 5) 

1 adult: 10 pupils (primary school pupils) 

1 adult: 15 pupils (secondary school pupils) 

Where pupils require support on a 1:1 ratio, this adult should be included over and above these ratios. 

Do you have safety guidelines?

We ask that pupils visiting in school groups are accompanied at all times during their visit at a ratio of: 

1 adult: 5 pupils (under the age of 5) 

1 adult: 10 pupils (primary school pupils) 

1 adult: 15 pupils (secondary school pupils) 

Where pupils require support on a 1:1 ratio, this adult should be included over and above these ratios. 

We will send you full safety guidelines with your booking confirmation. Please check them before your visit. In addition, please read and follow any safety notices and instructions from Visitor Experience staff. 

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Visiting with ASN pupils

We're committed to encouraging all pupils to enjoy our museums. We have a range of initiatives to support and welcome pupils with additional support needs to the National Museum of Scotland.

Find out about the resources available

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