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Explore our collections

Discover more about our amazing objects through stories, films, games and resources.

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Collections Services department

The Collections Services department manages and cares for our collections.

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Collections departments

Within our collections departments, our staff hold a wealth of knowledge and can provide expert advice on collections, their identification, care and management.

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Collections and research

Research is core to our activities as a Museum. Fnd out more about current research projects and opportunities, contact our curatorial staff and search our collections database.

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Natural Sciences Collections

Our collections are divided into four sections: Earth Systems, Invertebrates, Palaeobiology and Vertebrate Biology.

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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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Collections and research policies

National Museums Scotland aims to develop, manage, conserve and interpret the national collections, to ensure their preservation and benefit to the public.

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Exchange

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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Search the collections

Our online database contains a selection of the 12 million objects and specimens in our collections.

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Pacific Collections in Scottish Museums

Explore Pacific collections through this partnership project focusing on objects from across the region housed in Scottish museums.

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New to the National Collections

This small display highlighted a selection of the recent acquisitions at National Museums Scotland.

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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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Collections care training

This training resource focuses on the basics of caring for museum collections. It offers practical advice, shared good practice through case studies and demonstrations, and provides resources and links for further learning.

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New Holotype for Palaeobiology Collections

An exciting new discovery from the TW:eed Research project.

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Palaeobiology

Our collection covers all the major groups of fossil invertebrates, vertebrates, plants and trace fossils.

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India in our collections

Our Indian collections encompass a wide range of objects and reflect various aspects of Indian life.

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National War Museum

Within the walls of Edinburgh Castle, the National War Museum tells the story of Scotland at war.

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Charles Darwin's Scaly-throated earthcreeper

This earthcreeper was one of thousands of specimens collected during a voyage that Charles Darwin joined on the HMS Beagle.

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Military collections from the Younghusband Expedition

Discover how the advent of the Younghusband Expedition resulted in the collection of Tibetan objects directly from Tibet by British military collectors.

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Benin collections at National Museums Scotland

The 1897 invasion and looting of the west African Kingdom of Benin resulted in the sale and dispersal of thousands of artworks into European and American museums.

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Vertebrate Biology

Our collections comprise more than 200,000 vertebrate specimens from around the world.

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Scotland’s Precious Seas

Visitors discovered the diversity of life in Scotland’s seas and the many threats facing our marine life.

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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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JG Williams collection

The Natural Sciences department houses more than 2,000 shells, insects, bird skins and bats from the collections of the legendary naturalist John George Williams.

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Blaschka models

Discover how these amazing glass models have been educating and inspiring visitors for almost 150 years.

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Jean Jenkins collection

Delve into the diverse collection of pioneering ethnomusicologist Jean Jenkins.

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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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Classical collection

Our Classical collection unlocks a window to a ‘birthplace of civilisation’: ancient Greece and Rome.

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Ere ibeji figures

These carved wooden sculptures from West Africa represent the souls of deceased twins.

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Native American jewellery

Navajo and Pueblo jewellery from the Southwest United States is denoted by its use of turquoise and silver.

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The Kronfol Collection

Finely decorated household items of solid silver were a status symbol under the Pahlavi dynasty.

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Ancient Egypt, East Asia and Ceramics galleries

Discover our Ancient Egypt, East Asia and Ceramics galleries.

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Art, Design and Fashion galleries

These sumptuous galleries showcase the best of decorative art, design, fashion and style.

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Natural World galleries

A giant T.rex guards our Natural World galleries, where we ask the big questions: how does the world work? What do we know about it? What is our place in the universe?

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Scottish History and Archaeology galleries

Our Scottish galleries guide you from the Palaeolithic era to the present day, from the earliest cultures to space age science, prehistory to pop culture.

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World Cultures galleries

How can you travel around the world without leaving Scotland? By visiting our World Cultures galleries.

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Science and Technology galleries

Communications, transport, industry, engineering, energy and medicine: how have scientific and technological inventions changed our lives?

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Grand Gallery, Discoveries and Window on the World

Your journey from Scotland to the world begins in the Grand Gallery, one of Scotland's most beautiful spaces.

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Kawarasaki Gonjūrō I as Hanakawado Sukeroku, from the series Thirty-six Selected Floral Parallels (Tōsei mitate sanjūrokkasen)
Japanese theatre print

This beautiful 19th century woodblock print by the acclaimed artist Utagawa Kunisada features the actor Kawarasaki Gonjūrō I.

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Netsuke

Explore our collection of wonderful miniature Japanese sculptures that served functional and aesthetic purposes.

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Japanese writing box

This 19th century writing box displays the height of the Japanese lacquer artist's skill.

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Hanging Scroll Painting

This delightful 18th-century Japanese hanging scroll celebrates the New Year.

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