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History of the collection

The story of how specimens make their way into a museum’s collection is often a peculiar one.

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Silver dirhams from the Storr Rock Viking Hoard

A 10th-century hoard found on the Isle of Skye contained 19 dirhams, silver coins from the Islamic emirates of central Asia. These were not exotic curiosities collected by a Viking traveller, but evidence of trade routes connecting Scotland across vast distances at the turn of the first millennium.

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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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Dolly and the Atom Smasher

Fly across Scotland with Dolly the sheep, hitch a ride to space on a rocket and collect museum objects along the way.

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Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer

Only 89 Twin Pioneers were ever built – and you can see one in the National Museum of Flight.

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St Andrew and the Saltire

St Andrew is Scotland's patron saint and his Saltire (X-shaped) cross is Scotland's flag. Discover more about how he has been represented through the centuries.

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The Galloway Hoard: Viking-Age Treasure

Visitors were able to see cleaned and conserved objects from the Hoard, revealing intricate decoration not seen since the objects' burial more than 1,000 years ago.

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Lighthouses

Discover the story of the people who designed, built and operated Scotland's lighthouses through the objects which brought their role to life.

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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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Cup and cover by Malcolm Appleby

This striking ceremonial standing cup and cover was created especially for the Museum by virtuoso silversmith Malcolm Appleby.

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Corporate & Social Events

The National Museum of Scotland in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town offers the most stunning setting for memorable events.

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Culloden: Regimental colours

These rare Jacobite and British military colours were carried into battle at Culloden by opposing sides.

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Family Puzzle Trail

Download our family trail to help you plan a structured visit to the National Museum of Scotland.

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Avro Vulcan B.2A

See the world's first delta winged bomber on display at National Museum of Flight, East Fortune Airfield.

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T-Yoga with Tara - Morning Flow in the Grand Gallery

Join Tara from T-Yoga at the National Museum of Scotland for a gentle morning flow designed to wake up your body and mind.

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Objects linked to Waterloo

Explore the story of Waterloo at the National War Museum.

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Classifying the collection

In the 19th century there was a particularly intense interest in classifying the natural world.

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The Rise and Fall of Hamilton Palace

The destruction of Hamilton Palace, the grandest stately home in Britain, was one of the greatest losses to national heritage ever to happen in this country. This is the story of how Scotland’s biggest treasure trove was won and lost.

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Mode

Mode brings the museum's wardrobe to life with a selection of 30 objects from the world of fashion.

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Museum Maker: How to make paper art

We’ve teamed up with upcyling experts Ostrero and artist Bryony Knox to create three paper-cut designs inspired by Scottish animals. Choose from a stately stag, a magical unicorn or a red squirrel! The designs are inspired by paper-cut art from Mexico . Look out for some examples in our Patterns of Life gallery.

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Ida Pappenheim scent bottle collection

In 1971, over 300 beautiful scent bottles were donated to National Museums Scotland. The scent bottles were collected by Ida Pappenheim. Discover the story behind this charming collection.

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Biodiversity: Life In Scotland

Learn about four different ecosystems in Scotland through objects, games and microscopic imagery. Our accompanying resources will allow your class to study biodiversity across Scotland. Bookings now open.

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African dolls

These multi-coloured plastic dolls, western in their appearance, are very popular in Africa today.

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Scotland's Climate Challenge

This exhibition highlights the exciting work being carried out in Scotland to fight against climate change.

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Colour and draw

We asked our Facebook fans which objects from the National Museum of Scotland their families would like to colour in, and here are the results! From our family of lions to the giant sunfish, T-Rex to our elephant - is your favourite here?

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Incredible Insects

Investigate the wonderful world of insects this June as part of National Insect Week.

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Top things to see and do

Make the most of your visit with our museum highlights. Your rural adventure starts here!

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Who was Phoebe Anna Traquair?

The first important professional woman artist of modern Scotland, Phoebe Anna Traquair was a leading figure within the Scottish Arts and Crafts movement.

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Maths in museums

Throughout 2022, we want to work with local museums across Scotland to integrate more maths into their museum programming and provide support to take part in Maths Week 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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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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Sue Jane Taylor

Sue Jane Taylor has spent over thirty years recording the lives of workers in the North Sea oil and gas industry. These pages are a selection of Sue Jane Taylor's work that were on display in the Age of Oil exhibition (21 Jul - 5 Nov 2017), at the National Museum of Scotland.

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Scotland 365

Engaging young people with museums.

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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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Eating at the museum

Enjoy a range of freshly prepared food and drink in our two cafés at the museum.

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Thai Ceramics

Among the museum's collection in storage are a group of Thai ceramics excavated at Sawankhalok.

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Visiting FAQs

Learn more about what’s changed to help you plan your visit.

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Wild and Majestic: Romantic Visions of Scotland

Dramatic highland landscapes, tartan and bagpipes are among the defining images of Scotland for many people around the world today. This exhibition explored how they were used to represent Scotland.

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Theatre district handscroll

This 13-metre-long handscroll shows the bustling life in the theatre district of Edo (today's Tokyo) around 1700. It shows people enjoying a range of entertainment, from puppet shows and Kabuki theatre to comic skits and private parties.

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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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Professor Matthew Heddle biography

Heddle was a larger than life character, a renowned academic and one of Scotland's most famous mineralogists.

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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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