Places to Visit in Scotland
- National Museum of Scotland


A Museum dedicated to the history of Scotland had been talked about since 1780. Of course, the Royal Scottish Museum in Chamber Street in Edinburgh was completed in 1888 but that had exhibits covering collections covering the animal kingdom and from selected countries around the world. When the Museum of Scotland opened next door to the original Victorian building, on St Andrew's Day, 30 November 1998, it was able to concentrate just on the history of Scotland from the earliest times to the present day. The new building is most striking, with exterior walls of sandstone which is quarried near Elgin. The stone is naturally of different colours - seen at their best after a shower of rain! A major feature of the building is the "Drum Tower" which is of course reminiscent of many of the castle towers to be found around Scotland. In this case, the tower is multi-functional - as well as being eye-catching from the outside there is an internal staircase within the tower.

There are many windows and apertures in the building to allow visitors a glimpse of Edinburgh outside while viewing the exhibits inside. When viewing the artefacts dealing with the Reformation, there is a view of Greyfriar's Churchyard opposite, the scene of some of the actual historical events of that time. A roof garden at the top of the building gives a unique view over the city of Edinburgh including, of course, Edinburgh Castle.

The main entrance hall of the museum (seen on the right) is a lofty cathedral, full of light from the glass windows in the ceiling. Full of shapes, curves and curtain walls, it is an impressive start to any visit to the museum. And as you wander round, various openings in the walls allow you to glimpse yet another perspective.

There are various means of moving around the six floors of the museum, ranging from a modern, glass-sided lift through flights of stairs or the spiral staircase (seen here on the left) which is so reminiscent of many Scottish castles. And the little port-holes just beg to be looked through! But if there is any criticism of this building it is that the complex, irregular layout is confusing and finding the stairs from one floor to the next is a major challenge!

There is a considerable contrast between the modern architecture of the Museum of Scotland and the 19th century Royal Museum next door. There is access between the two buildings - indeed, at one stage there was not going to be a separate entrance to the new museum!

The new Museum of Scotland building somewhat overshadowed the older Royal Museum. So in April 2008 the older museum shut its doors to allow a 46.4 million transformation to take place and it reopened in July 2011 to reveal one of the UK's largest museums with 20,000 objects spread across 36 galleries. The combined Museum of Scotland and Royal Museum is now called "National Museum of Scotland". If you want to see more on the former Royal Museum of Scotland there is an illustrated article on Rampant Scotland in Places to Visit - Royal Museum of Scotland page.

These Web pages contain extensive illustrations of the exhibits and the building. Even so, there are 10,000 items on display in the Museum and these pages cover only a selection of these - and which lend themselves to display on the Net. The photographs were taken within a few days of the museum being opened.

For more on the National Museum of Scotland, see:

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