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.
Unmask the Lewis chess pieces
Welcome to the world of the Lewis chess pieces! Discover all there is to know about these mysterious figures in this interactive resource.
For Teachers: Primary Resources
Explore a range of activities suitable for pupils working at Early, First and Second Levels including:
- Writing a story
- Maths and numeracy
Investigate different aspects of life on Earth, through fascinating fossils, tools for turning the soil and pieces of art reflecting the devastating effects of pollution on our planet.
Coronation ampulla of Charles I
This curious object, one of the earliest surviving pieces of Scottish-made gold, was used at the Scottish coronation of Charles I, held some eight years after his coronation in London.
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.
This opulent deep red coral and 18 carat gold necklace was created by Yazzie Johnson and Gail Bird.
Korean lacquer box
Two dragons wrap themselves around the exterior of this Korean lacquer box, their two heads meeting gracefully in the centre. The dragon decoration on this circular box was applied using the technique called najeonjang, where pieces of mother-of-pearl are inlaid into the black lacquer surface.
On 3 December 1917, a little after 13:00, a large fireball was seen to cross southern
Scotland. A short time later, an explosion was heard and four objects were seen or heard to
crash to the ground around the towns of Coupar Angus and Blairgowrie in the Strathmore area of central Scotland.
Down to Earth
Celebrating the centenary of the Strathmore Meteorite, this display reunited the four fragments for the first time.
Our Japanese collection
Explore highlights of our Japanese collection, from tiny netsuke to cutting edge designs, superb ceramics to Ainu artefacts.
Make Your Own Celtic Torc
The Iron Age Celts loved to show off their wealth and importance by wearing fancy gold necklaces called torcs. Copy their look by making your own – it's blingtastic!
Maori craftsmanship and museum conservation bring to life one of our most unusual and intriguing objects.
Freddy the Robot
Find out about Freddy the robot developed in the 1970s at the University of Edinburgh and explore how robot technology has changed from early automota to assisting surgery and exploring Mars.
Museum Maker: Make a champion’s rosette
Summer is usually the season for gala days and rural shows, including our own Heavy Horse Show. Celebrate the champions you know – family, friends or even pets - by making them a personalised rosette!
Torrs pony cap
This unique decorated Iron Age cap would have adorned a highly prized pony.
Our Chinese collection
From ancient ceramics to imperial jade, oracle bones to contemporary propaganda posters, our Chinese collection spans over four thousand years and includes around 11,000 items.
Our Korean collection
This rich collection focuses mainly on the Joseon period, Korea's last dynasty which lasted over five centuries. However, earlier periods and contemporary works are also represented in a collection that spans over 2,000 years.
The Cockcroft-Walton generator was developed at the University of Cambridge in the early 1930s to accomplish the first artificial splitting of the atom.
Find out how this revolutionary telescope was invented, and how it found a home at the National Museum of Scotland.
This Calcite crystal is an excellent example of a complex doubly terminated scalenohedral crystal.
Moroccan water basin
This unique water basin, shaped like a citadel, was made by Moroccan potters, probably as a diplomatic gift, in the 19th century.
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.
Tea service of the Emperor Napoleon
This great silver-gilt tea service was created for the Emperor Napoleon and his second wife, the Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, shortly after their wedding in 1810.
Beyond the Little Black Dress
From design classics to cutting-edge catwalk creations, Beyond the Little Black Dress deconstructs this iconic garment and examines the radical power of the colour black in fashion.
This beautiful botanical prosthetic arm was designed by Sophie de Oliveira Barata for model Kelly Knox.