National Museum of Scotland
Allow me to preface by saying this: this museum is ginormous. I made the mistake of not allotting enough time for my visit (I had no idea it was this huge!) and so wasn’t able to see the whole museum. I really tried to follow the map and looking at it methodically, but kept getting distracted whenever I walked into a new room – there’s so much to see!
The National Museum of Scotland began with the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (1780), whose collections passed into public ownership in 1851 as the National Museum of Antiquities.
Originally, these collections shared a building with the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, but after having amalgamated with the Royal Scottish Museum in 1985, they moved into a new building in 1998, and were known as the National Museums of Scotland.
This “new” building had originally been constructed starting in 1861, and opened in 1866 as the Edinburgh Museum of Science in Art, later (1904) renamed the Royal Scottish Museum. Its design was created by civil engineer Captain Francis Fowke of the Royal Engineers, who also designed the Royal Albert Hall. This gorgeous hall, the Grand Gallery, was inspired by the Crystal Palace in London.
The museum closed in 2006 so that its originally Victorian building could undergo a renovation that would adapt it to the necessities of the modern world. And this time, when it opened, it did so as a single entity, joining together a strong focus on Scotland and its history with an interest in international cultures, science, and decorative art.
The more modern Museum of Scotland building is made up of geometric, Corbusian forms, but also has many references to Scotland and its history. Its walls are clad in Moray limestone, which one of its architects, Gordon Benson, has called “the oldest exhibit in the building,” referring to Scottish geology.
This link provides more info on the fashion pieces being shown here.
Apparently, the Royal Scottish Museum has displayed April Fool’s prank exhibits in the past. In 1975, they displayed an exhibition on a fictitious bird called the Bare-Fronted Hoodwink, which was famously difficult to spot and would always fly away before being photographed. The exhibition included photos of blurry birds flying away. How cute is that?
The museum is also home to a rooftop terrace with panoramic views over the surrounding city. It was designed by Andy Goldsworthy, a sculptor, in honor of James Hutton, known as the founder of modern geology. The flora that surrounds the edge of the terrace is meant to represent different aspects of Scotland’s landscape, anywhere from the coast to the grasslands. And that view ❤
You even get a peek into Greyfriar’s Kirkyard from here!
This page allows you to explore the museum galleries in more detail, as they’re currently closed.