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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.

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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.

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Top 10 things to see and do

Your journey of discovery starts here...

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Make your own Lewis chess piece

The Lewis chess pieces live in the National Museum of Scotland. Colour them in or cut out and make your own chess piece here.

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Tour of the Kingdom of the Scots Gallery

Join curator Lydia Prosser for a guided virtual tour of our Kingdom of the Scots gallery at the National Museum of Scotland.

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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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Stacking Glass designed by Saara Hopea

This elegant Stacking Glass reflects Saara Hopea's functionalist ideals of economy and minimal design.

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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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Blå Kant (Blue Line) designed by Grethe Meyer

Named for the fine blue line that runs along the edges of the light grey faience, and received the inaugural Danish Industrial Design Prize (ID) in 1965.

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Rings and brooches designed by Henning Koppel

Henning Koppel's designs were seen at the time to be a highly innovative move for jewellery and silver manufacturer Georg Jensen, who had previously created nothing remotely like it.

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Carved oak doors associated with Mary of Guise

When medieval buildings in Blyth’s Close off Edinburgh’s Castlehill were demolished, these pieces - associated with Mary of Guise - were rescued.

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Elements: Earth

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.

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Scottish Pottery: Art and Innovation

Over 250 years ago Scottish industry began producing a wide range of pottery, from everyday ware to exotic decorative pieces. Potteries established by Scottish entrepreneurs sprung up around the Forth and Clyde regions, as well as further afield.

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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.

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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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Hopeakuu (Silver Moon) pendant designed by Tappio Wirkkala

The title of this pendant - Hopeakuu - reflects Wirkkala’s love of nature. The repeated sphere has a kinetic element allowing the rings to move independently of each other.

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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.

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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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Karlyn Sutherland

Karlyn Sutherland is known for her evocative sculptures, fused wall pieces and site-specific installations that explore light and shadow.

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Down to Earth

Celebrating the centenary of the Strathmore Meteorite, Down to Earth was a small display that reunites the four fragments for the first time, along with pieces of the three other meteorites found on Scottish soil.

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Members’ Spotlight: Archie Brennan, Tapestry Goes Pop!

Members can enjoy an exclusive preview into the world of pop artist and weaver, Archie Brennan and explore pieces that have never before been on public display.

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Make and Create: Get hands-on with craft ideas

Get hands-on with craft ideas inspired by our collections.

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Jewellery designed by Grete Prytz Kittelsen

This necklace of interlinking geometric shapes came in three colour combinations of green, blue and white.

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Matt Durran

Matt Durran’s practice is inspired by his research into areas such as innovation and design, medical technology, digital craft and renewable energy and is revealed through large-scale installations and sculptural pieces.

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Coral necklace

This opulent deep red coral and 18 carat gold necklace was created by Yazzie Johnson and Gail Bird.

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Strathmore Meteorite

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.

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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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Newbigging Jug

The jug is a rare example of elaborately decorated brown stoneware.

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Our Japanese collection

Explore highlights of our Japanese collection, from tiny netsuke to cutting edge designs, superb ceramics to Ainu artefacts.

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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!

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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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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.

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Museum Art Challenge 2020

What inspires you in our museums? Get creative and join our month-long online art challenge at National Museums Scotland!

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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!

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Modernist Jewellery

This exhibition invited visitors to discover a generation of designers and makers who embraced innovative and diverse influences, from the natural environment to the non-precious materials they used, that would go on to influence a new wave of jewellery production.

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Torrs pony cap

This unique decorated Iron Age cap would have adorned a highly prized pony.

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Kwakwaka’wakw masks from the Northwest Coast

Contemporary objects created by Indigenous people are helping us to grow our understanding of other cultures and build stronger links with communities around the world.

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Scotland's Early Silver on film

Discover the story of Scotland’s early silver and how this precious metal helped to shape the first kingdoms of Scotland.

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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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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.

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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.

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Geoffrey Mann

Geoffrey Mann’s creative practice stretches the limits of his chosen medium.

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Calcite crystal

This Calcite crystal is an excellent example of a complex doubly terminated scalenohedral crystal.

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Cockcroft-Walton generator

The Cockcroft-Walton generator was developed at the University of Cambridge in the early 1930s to accomplish the first artificial splitting of the atom.

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Schmidt telescope

Find out how this revolutionary telescope was invented, and how it found a home at the National Museum of Scotland.

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Iznik-style dish

This painted pottery dish was made in about 1897 in Iran, in the style of Turkish pottery made in Iznik.

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Pale coloured barkcloth painted with a brightly coloured pattern
Pink barkcloth from Central Sulawesi

One of the hidden gems in our store is a vibrant small collection of barkcloth, brought to Scotland from Central Sulawesi in 1932 by missionaries Leonard and Maggie Woodward.

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Art of Glass on film

Preparing for the Art of Glass exhibition at National Museum of Scotland.

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