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Our Japanese collection

Explore highlights of our Japanese collection, from tiny netsuke to cutting edge designs, superb ceramics to Ainu artefacts.

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Art Nouveau panel by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. A woman in a swooping dress adorned with green leaves looks up at three winged cherubs.
Centre for Open Learning: Discovering Decorative Arts at the National Museum of Scotland

National Museums Scotland are delighted to welcome back the University of Edinburgh Short Courses – a great way to explore our collections and their wider history with experts.

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Ancient Mediterranean collections

Our Ancient Mediterranean archaeological collections consist of over 12,000 objects from across northern Africa, southern Europe, and western Asia.

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Boulton & Watt engine

This Boulton & Watt engine was the first full-sized engine acquired for the collections and is one of the oldest surviving beam engines in the world.

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Climate emergency films

Explore how we use our collections to understand the past, present and future of the climate emergency.

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Mandarin at the Museum

Learn how to say colours in Mandarin, explore the museum collections, in person or virtually, and create your own Chinese object card.

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Make and Create: Get hands-on with craft ideas

Get hands-on with craft ideas inspired by our collections.

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Elements: Fire

From intricate firelighting tools to rocket-powered aircraft and a fire alarm with a difference, our collections feature intriguing links to the element fire.

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Mummy Shroud

A unique, full-length mummy shroud, which is over 2,000 years old yet is still in remarkable condition, has been discovered in National Museums Scotland’s collections.

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A group of carved Lewis chess pieces
The Lewis chess pieces

These medieval chess pieces from the Scottish island of Lewis are among our most popular collections. They give us fascinating insights into the international connections of western Scotland and the growing popularity of chess in medieval Europe.

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Black and white print of a crowd of people on a street surrounding Bonnie Prince Charlie who is riding a horse.
Centre for Open Learning: Georgian Scotland

National Museums Scotland are delighted to welcome back the University of Edinburgh Short Courses – a great way to explore our collections and their wider history with experts.

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£250,000 project for community groups to research collections in galleries, libraries, archives and museums across the UK 

National Museums Scotland has been awarded a grant by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) with the National Maritime Museum, London to enable organisations around the UK to work with community groups to explore experiences of empire, migration, and life in Britain through their collections.

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Scotland and the Caribbean

What do museum collections reveal about Britain’s and Scotland’s role in the Transatlantic slave system and the experiences of enslaved people?

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Museum Maker: How to make an owl badge

We’ve teamed up with upcycling experts Ostrero and artist Bryony Knox to create a design for a cool owl badge – made form a fizzy drinks can! Try it out today.

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Discover Robert Burns

Get to know Scottish literary icon Robert Burns through remarkable objects in the collections of National Museums Scotland.

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Victor Gama's instruments

These four unique instruments were specially created for Performance and Lives gallery at the National Museum of Scotland by internationally renowned composer and artist Victor Gama.

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Rectangular gilt-bronze mount depicting a lion, reused as a brooch in the grave of a woman and infant from Westness, Rousay, Orkney, length 66mm,
Rediscovering Viking-age Scotland with Michael Wood

Acclaimed historian and broadcaster Michael Wood joined Dr Adrián Maldonado, Glenmorangie Research Fellow, to discuss Adrián’s new book, 'Crucible of Nations: Scotland from Viking Age to Medieval Kingdom'. The book reassesses the museum’s Viking-age collections, uncovering an exciting new vision of Scotland’s diverse and creative past.

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Objects associated with Robert Burns

A variety of objects relating to the life of Scotland's bard can be found in National Museums Scotland's collections.

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Scottish History and Archaeology department

Our collections represent Scottish material culture from the earliest times to the present day.

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New to the National Collection

New to the National Collection showcased the latest additions to our collections, including objects that will feature in ten new galleries in 2016.

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Our work

Find out how we care for collections of national and international importance, preserving them, interpreting them and making them accessible to as many people as possible.

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Museum Moves: Family Yoga

Use these seven yoga based poses to move, stretch and get energised, inspired by our collections. You can do each one on its own or all seven together in a 'yoga flow'.

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New thinking, new collecting

This display highlights a small selection from our Scottish History & Archaeology collections, showing how research and collecting at National Museums Scotland is reshaping understandings of Scotland in the past, and reflecting the Scotland of today for future generations of museum visitors.

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Painting of a man playing the bagpipes in the countryside. He is wearing a uniform of red tartan.
Centre for Open Learning: Scotland – Romance and Reality

Explore the romance and reality of 18th and 19th century Scotland in this one-day course.

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Woolly mammoth tusks

Two pieces of tusk in our collection show that some woolly mammoths made their home in Scotland, while another provides early evidence of mammoths in North America.

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Eigg's stegosaur

A 166 million-year-old dinosaur bone identified as the first stegosaur bone to be found in Scotland has been added to our collections after a lucky discovery on the Isle of Eigg by Dr Elsa Panciroli.

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The Art of African Metalwork

Discover how brass and copper once featured as mediums of exchange, status and power in Africa through highlights of the museum’s 19th and early 20th century collections from west and central Africa.

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Sir Everard and Lady Hannah im Thurn's Sri Lankan collection

Between 1925 and 1935 a fascinating collection of objects and glass lantern slides were donated to the Museum from Sri Lanka.

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The Heddle collection

Professor Matthew Forster Heddle (1828-1897) was Scotland's most famous mineralogist. At National Museums Scotland, we look after 5,700 specimens from his collection.

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Atlantic slave trade learning resources

Discover how objects in the museum’s collections can help us explore Scotland’s involvement in the Atlantic slave trade and the abolitionist movement.

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Child standing in front of a plane looking through binoculars.
Museum trails

Explore the museum collections and historic airfield with our family trails.

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Learning resources for schools

Explore stories, films, games and resources from the museums’ collections.

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Bust of Robert Burns in profile, with short haircut and jacket.
Who was Robert Burns?

Discover the life of the National Bard through the collections of National Museums Scotland.

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Schools

Bring the Curriculum for Excellence to life with the help of the national collections.

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The Glenmorangie Commission

In 2018, the internationally renowned metalsmith Simone ten Hompel was commissioned by National Museums Scotland and The Glenmorangie Company to create a new artwork inspired by our curatorial research and the Museum’s collection of metal artefacts from early medieval Scotland.

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Black History Month

Explore stories about Black history and culture, from colonial legacies to contemporary fashion, and hear Black perspectives on aspects of the Collections.

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Reenactors form a line of Roman cavalry on a grassy field, armed with spears, oval-shaped shields, shining helms and full-body armour.
Romans in Scotland: the Roman army

The Roman army was drawn from many corners of the vast Roman Empire

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Three shoes on a black background. One is large with a radial pattern of straps, one is medium with less complex straps, and one is small with just the sole surviving.
Romans in Scotland: life on the frontier

Forts were not just military bases, they became the heart of communities

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White sandstone carving of a ferocious lioness devouring the head and torso of a male figure.
Romans in Scotland: highlight objects

See five highlight objects that summarise the legacy of Rome's invasions of Scotland

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