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Colonial collections

Find out more about how colonial collectors gathered a broad range of objects from areas that were, and still are, considered ethnically and culturally Tibetan to some degree, including areas of Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Ladakh and West Bengal.

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Our collections

The wealth of objects in the national collection represent everything from Scottish and international archaeology to applied arts and design, from world cultures and social history to science, technology and the natural world.

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Umbrian Madonna and child

This beautifully crafted 14th-century sculpture was made by an anonymous artist known as the Master of the Gualino St Catherine.

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British ensemble by Marks & Spencer

This classic outfit was part of Marks & Spencer's 'Best of British' range, which celebrated British craftsmanship and creativity.

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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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The Eglinton tournament: the quest for authenticity

In August 1839, Lord Eglinton held a mock-medieval tournament at his estate in North Ayrshire, Scotland. The event was hugely popular, and around 100,000 people attended. Step onto the battlefield and discover some of the objects associated with this flamboyant festival here.

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Pitch drop demonstration

Possibly the oldest in the world, this pitch drop demonstration is also one of the slowest science experiments ever created

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Objects associated with Mary, Queen of Scots

In our collection we have many items that have been linked to the famous Queen, but is this association fact or myth?

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Refracting Telescopes

While reflecting telescopes came to predominate as large astronomical instruments in dedicated observatories, refracting instruments continue to be the most popular choice for portable instruments, from naval spyglasses to birdwatchers’ binoculars.

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Embroidered Stories: Scottish Samplers

This exhibition revealed an insight into the lives of children in the 18th and 19th centuries through a unique collection of Scottish samplers on loan from American collector Leslie B. Durst.

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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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Visitor comments

What did visitors say about Ming: The Golden Empire? Here’s a selection of comments from our visitors’ book and Twitter.

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Pictish throne

For the first of the Glenmorangie Research Project’s re-creations we chose to commission the making of a throne.

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Dr Fraser Hunter

Fraser Hunter is Principal Curator of Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology.

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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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Gold object of the week No. 14

Late Bronze Age gold hoard from Cae Capel Eithin (Gaerwen), Anglesey, Wales

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A relic of General Charles Gordon

A fascinating example of a military relic can be seen in the collections of the Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham, Kent.

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Turkey red pattern
Flowers and leaves

Floral and foliate patterns are common in the Turkey Red Collection. They range from naturalistic styles to abstract patterns and they were produced for both the domestic and export markets.

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Animals and birds

Designs with animals and birds were produced throughout the life of the Turkey red industry. Like the floral patterns, they were often aimed at specific markets. The peacock, for instance, was a popular motif with the Indian market and appears in a variety of guises in the Turkey Red Collection.

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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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Gérard Quenum's 'L'Ange'

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

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Box of Amenhotep II

This box inscribed with the name of Pharaoh Amenhotep II is one of the finest examples of decorative woodwork to survive from ancient Egypt.

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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: 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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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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Barkcloth dance masks from Papua New Guinea

Three dramatic barkcloth masks offer an insight into the traditional beliefs and celebrations of the Elema people from the Gulf of Papua, Papua New Guinea, at the turn of the 20th century.

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Romans in Scotland: Trimontium Museum loan

Discover objects on loan to the new Trimontium Museum in the Scottish Borders

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