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MinION DNA sequencing machine

Science and Technology volunteer Susanne Hotvedt introduces this powerful piece of small technology.

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J R Pairman: from wood engraver to art director

Born in 1837, John (sometimes James) Ramsay Pairman began working for W. & R. Chambers in 1858. During his 50 year tenure, he rose from wood engraver to superintendent of the Illustrating Department by 1866 and acted as the firm’s Art Editor.

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Gothic Revival vase by William Burges

This elaborate 19th century vase was created by the architect and designer William Burges, and formed part of his opulent interior decoration design for Cardiff Castle.

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Library collection

The scope of the library collection reflects the strengths and variety of the Museums’ collections.

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Gold object of the week No. 2

Gold lunulae from Harlyn Bay, Cornwall

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Header image: (c) Neil Hanna
CPD and events for teachers

We have a range of events and CPD for teachers looking to visit our museums or use our collections in their classrooms.

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Second World War (P5-7)

Discover what it was like for the pilots who flew in the Second World War.

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Website terms of use

This page contains information about external links, accessibility and copyright.

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Culture vessel

This simple looking object made it possible for the first clinical trials and batch production of penicillin to take place. Its design marks a significant milestone in the history of medicine.

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An Egyptian Luxury in Roman Scotland

Discover how research and collecting at National Museums Scotland is reshaping understandings of Scotland in the past as we take a closer look at a very special Roman object with surprising Egyptian origins.

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Ancient Egypt Week with National Museums Scotland

From 26-30 April, take part in our focused week of free ancient Egypt activities for pupils learning at home or in school.

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Quilted garments and quilts

Quilted garments, such as petticoats or dressing gowns, provide a rare example of how Turkey red dyed and printed cottons were actually used.

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Dr Alice Blackwell

Alice is the Curator of Medieval Archaeology & History, with responsibility for the late medieval collections.

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African Commemorative Textiles Project with Edinburgh College of Art 2016-17

This creative project opened up our African collections as an inspirational resource for students at Edinburgh College of Art.

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Dr Andrew Ross

Andrew Ross is the head of the Palaeobiology Section which includes all the fossil collections.

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Gold object of the week No. 5

The Culduthel wristguard rivet caps

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The Umbrian Madonna: history and analysis

The first stage of this interdisciplinary project explored the history of the sculpture and included a scientific analysis of its components. The findings informed the conservation and display of this rare piece.

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Network members

The AHRC Gold Research Network brings together, for the first time, experts and early-career researchers from a number of disciplines and countries to share their knowledge and expertise about gold.

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The Cossar newspaper printing press

Discover how this unique piece of Scottish printing heritage found a new home at the National Museums Collection Centre – bringing with it a sprinkle of Harry Potter magic!

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Allegro dining suite

The design of this elegant modernist dining suite was once admired by the Queen Mother. Now extremely rare, it makes a significant new addition to the national collection.

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Age of Oil

Exploring the people and places of Scotland’s offshore energy industry, this contemporary art exhibition showcases the work of visual artist Sue Jane Taylor who has worked in some of the most remote and challenging environments in Scotland.

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Coronation ampulla of Charles I

This curious object, one of the earliest surviving pieces of Scottish-made gold, was used at the Scottish coronation of Charles I, held some eight years after his coronation in London.

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Ancient Egyptian collection

National Museums Scotland’s Ancient Egyptian collection comprises around 6,000 items. Explore its rich treasures here.

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The genetics of Asian lions in zoos

A newly published project examines genetic variation in the Asian lion population in European zoos.

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Comparative analysis of vestibular ecomorphology in birds

Is it possible to infer the agility or manoeuvrability of a fossil animal from the shape of its labyrinth?

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Dr Fraser Hunter

Fraser Hunter is Principal Curator of Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology.

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Game Masters

Featuring over 100 playable games, Game Masters showcased the work of more than 30 leading videogame designers.

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Sankurie Pye

Sankurie Pye is Curator of Invertebrate Biology.

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East Asia in Edinburgh and Lothians

Collections in City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian and West Lothian.

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Dr Andrew Kitchener

Andrew Kitchener is Principal Curator of Vertebrates in the Department of Natural Sciences where he specialises in research on mammals, especially carnivorans.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Leaving a gift in your will is a big decision and we realise you may have questions about it. Hopefully the information below will answer many of them, but please get in touch if you have any other queries – we’d be happy to hear from you.

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Home furnishings

Britain in the late nineteenth century experienced a revolution in domestic comfort as rising living standards (the consequence of cheap food imports) generated surplus income for ordinary householders which was spent by many on home furnishings.

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Introduction to Pacific Collections resource

The Introduction to Pacific Collections is a resource for anyone interested in working with material culture from the Pacific.

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Gold object of the week No. 12

Late Bronze Age bracelets from Hillhead, Caithness

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Bruce-Oosterwijck sea clock

This historic Bruce-Oosterwijck pendulum sea clock played an important role in the long quest for a practical way of determining longitude at sea; a problem that made sea voyages incredibly hazardous.

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Turkey red pattern
Exhibitions of textiles

Britain had twenty-two ‘international’ exhibitions in the second half of the nineteenth century, starting with the Great Exhibition at London’s Crystal Palace in 1851. There were similar exhibitions in Europe and America and in the British colonial capitals, as well as in the main British provincial cities. These exhibitions provided excellent opportunities for manufacturers to show off their products.

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Dress and Textiles from Highland South East Asia

A University of Glasgow Student Work Placement Project Jan – Apr 2017

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The Umbrian Madonna: Sculpture and 3D medieval painting

Following the success of the initial project, we succeeded in securing funding from the Henry Moore Foundation and the KT Wiedemann Foundation to go further in our analysis of the 14-century sculpture of the Madonna and Child.

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Further reading

Interested in learning more about Turkey red and the British textile industry? Explore our reading list.

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Gold object of the week No.13

The Douglas Nugget, Britain's largest gold nugget.

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East Asia, Africa and Australia

Although India was the biggest market for the Scottish Turkey red manufacturers, this did not stop the Vale of Leven firms from seeking out new customers. By the end of the nineteenth century they had established trade links with the Far East, Africa, Australia and the South Pacific.

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Dr Matthew Knight

Matthew is a Senior Curator of Prehistory responsible for the Scottish Chalcolithic and Bronze Age collections. He is also responsible for the Scottish archaeological human remains collections.

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W. & R. Chambers and the collection history

The research for the Democratising Knowledge project focused on archival material, the woodblocks and their production, and an analysis of the illustrations in Chambers's encyclopaedias.

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Invertebrates

The Invertebrate collections date from the mid-1800s and include samples of many different groups of animals.

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Dr Jerry Herman

Jerry Herman is Senior Curator of Vertebrates and specialises in mammals.

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Turkey red pattern
North America

Much of the cotton used by the Scottish Turkey red manufacturers in the early years of the industry came from North America. This cotton was dyed and printed in Scotland and much of it was sent back to America in the form of bandannas, scarves and even flags.

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Further reading

For further reading on Tibetan culture and the collection of Tibetan material objects, please refer to the existing literature which has been collated

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