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Natural Sciences department

Our Natural Sciences collections cover both life sciences and earth sciences.

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Collecting the Present

National Museums Scotland is collecting history as it happens. Our new film series, Collecting the Present, explores objects we have collected recently that document cultural, political and social change in Scotland.

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The Waste of Daylight

In 1907 the builder William Willett wrote a pamphlet called The Waste of Daylight, campaigning for Daylight Saving in the UK. 9 years later, in 1916, this came into effect in UK law and effectively changed how we experience the passing seasons. Read on to find out more about Daylight Saving is and why Willett wanted it implemented...

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Detail from a jet engine on display at the National Museum of Flight.
Behind the Scenes Tours

Find out about our collection of aero-engines and propellers on a curator-led tour of our Object Store.

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Meissen lion

The Meissen lion is part of the animal menagerie commissioned by Augustus II the Strong in the early 18th century.

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CryoArks: Animal biobanking for research and conservation 

Learn how museums and zoos are helping to conserve endangered species through CryoArks – the UK’s national bank of frozen animal material.

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Highland Style: tartan trends in Georgian Britain

Discover how Highland dress was adapted in the Georgian period into the iconic and fashionable symbol of Scotland we know today.

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Cloud cabinet

This magnificent maple cabinet was designed by Edward William Godwin and painted by the renowned artist, James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

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Alexander Dalrymple's portrait

Scottish-born Alexander Dalrymple was a significant figure in Britain’s maritime history.

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History

Discover the story of National Museums Scotland, from our 18th century beginnings to the present day.

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Build a story at the museum with Scottish Book Trust

Museums are great places to uncover stories. Build your own story, inspired by our amazing objects.

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Robert Burns on film

Celebrate the life and legacy of Robert Burns in a series of films focussing on key objects associated with the bard.

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Biobanks: storing animal samples for research and conservation

Explore how CryoArks biobanks store samples from animals so that researchers can look at their genetic code.

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Victorian photographic techniques

Discover how Victorian inventors and entrepreneurs succeeded in capturing the very first images.

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Moby the whale

Discover how the skull of a 40ft whale, which captured the heart of the nation, has become a permanent feature at the National Museum of Scotland.

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For Teachers: Secondary Resources

Explore a range of activities suitable for pupils working at Third and Fourth Levels and Senior Phase including the First World War, Parasites and Fashion.

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For Teachers: Primary Resources

Explore a range of activities suitable for pupils working at Early, First and Second Levels including: - Mandarin - Writing a story - Maths and numeracy

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In Conversation: Inspiring Walter Scott

Join our curators to explore the fascinating objects that inspired Sir Walter Scott and the celebrated novels in which they feature.

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Assyrian relief

The panel was given to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1865 by Sir James Young Simpson.

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Taguchi Fumiki's Wound Around choker

This acquisition by contemporary Japanese artist, Taguchi Fumiki, has been laboriously carved to sparkle like diamonds.

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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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Designing for the Climate: Circular Economy

Discover more about the Circular Economy through the work of young people across Scotland, led by Ostrero.

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Waka Taua

Maori craftsmanship and museum conservation bring to life one of our most unusual and intriguing objects.

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Explore the galleries

From the age of dinosaurs to the technology of the future, our galleries contain treasures from around the world.

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Jean Muir archive

In a fashion career spanning more than 40 years, Jean Muir acquired a reputation for restrained, elegant design and a devoted following. Explore signature styles from the Jean Muir archive and discover what made her designs so innovative and enduring.

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Artworks by Danie Mellor

In 2013, National Museums Scotland acquired one metal sculpture and one work on paper by contemporary Australian artist Danie Mellor.

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Legacies of Empire

Legacies of Empire examines the histories connected to objects brought back from colonial conflict by the military forces of the British Empire.

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Cybraphon

Meet Cybraphon, the moody autonomous robot band in a box created by Edinburgh-based artist collective FOUND.

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NMS Enterprises

NMS Enterprises was established in 2002 to facilitate the commercial activities of National Museums Scotland.

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Strategy

National Museums Scotland's mission, vision, aims, priorities, and values along with our strategic plan and national strategy.

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National Museums Scotland Launches Gaelic Language Consultation

National Museums Scotland has launched a consultation on its draft Gaelic Language Plan.

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Awesome Bricks at home

Recreate your favourite museum objects and places using the LEGO you have at home!

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Mami Wata brass tray

This embossed object is one of thousands of shallow brass basins, bowls and trays from Europe which were traded extensively along the west coast of Africa.

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First live lunar television broadcast

Apollo 11 was the first manned mission to land on the Moon on 20 July 1969. NASA used technology first developed in 1928 by the Scottish innovator John Logie Baird to develop a small, robust television camera that enabled the live broadcast from this mission.

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The story of syringes

Syringes are important medical tools and have been around for thousands of years. With the ongoing vaccination effort against COVID-19, you or a loved one may well have encountered one quite recently.

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LGBTQIA+ Hidden Histories Trail

Discover unexplored stories in our LGBTQIA+ Hidden Histories audio trail.

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Vase by Hamish Dobbie

This beautiful piece was commissioned from Scottish silversmith Hamish Dobbie by the P&O Makower Trust for the Making and Creating gallery.

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Image adapted from a lithograph by J. Maclise, 1841/1844. Credit: Wellcome Collection
Anatomy: A Matter of Death and Life

This exhibition explored the history of anatomical study, from artistic explorations by Leonardo da Vinci to the Burke and Hare murders.

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Vivienne Westwood suit

Scotland Creates volunteer Bethany Lane introduces this distinctive Harris Tweed suit created by iconic fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.

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Elements of Edinburgh Science Festival

Discover amazing science from inside your own home as we explore the elemental themes of the Edinburgh Science Festival 2020.

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How to make a Dragon Sock Puppet

In this video, artist Sophie Orton shows how to make your own dragon sock puppet from things you have at home. This video was created by artists Katie and Sophie Orton.

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Gérard Quenum's 'L'Ange'

This bold and engaging sculpture is a mixed media piece made from recycled found objects.

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The Lothian Birth Cohort

What is it like to hold your own brain? John Scott, a Lothian Birth Cohort participant, was lucky enough to find out

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