National Museum of Scotland

Holiday Travel Guide
National Museum of Scotland featuring interior views as well as a large group of people

Science, nature, history and culture come together in this spectacular museum, which celebrates learning about the world and all its wonders.

Be engrossed for hours in the National Museum of Scotland’s fascinating exhibits. This celebrated attraction packs hundreds of displays into its high-ceilinged galleries and white-marble corridors. A comprehensive look at Scottish history adds local interest, while exhibits dedicated to anthropology and technology give the museum a global perspective.

See the building inspired by London’s Crystal Palace and constructed during the museum boom of the late-Victorian era. A redevelopment that involved merging the museum with a neighboring building led to a grand reopening in 2011.

Enter through the doors under the main sandstone façade to a cloistered lobby beneath the main hall. As well as a gift shop and restaurant, this foyer includes an information point, which offers maps and brochures with additional facts.

From here, take one of the free guided tours that run daily. Choose from three different kinds of tours: a general overview, one dedicated to Scotland and a third tour option, with changing daily topics. Self-guided tours are available using the museum's free app.

Head upstairs into the Grand Gallery. This atrium forms the center of the museum and features cast-iron pillars and a glass ceiling. Browse galleries on three levels dedicated to cultures from around the world, the denizens of the animal kingdom and the wonders of outer space.

Set your watch by the surreal Millennium Clock, an artistic timepiece on the side of the main hall. Macabre sculptures whir and spin at the turning of the hours as a Bach concerto plays to mark the passing of time.

Learn about Scottish history in the Scotland galleries. This maze of rooms traces the story of the nation, displaying carvings from the Pictish era, weapons from religious wars and machinery from the Industrial Revolution.

Enjoy panoramic views of Edinburgh’s historic buildings from the museum’s roof terrace. Use the maps and information points to help identify the different sights.

To get to the museum, walk for 10 minutes from Edinburgh Waverley station or take a bus to Chambers Street stop, directly outside. The National Museum of Scotland has free admission and is open throughout the year.

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