Edinburgh is full of fascinating museums that cover every area of interest that you could possibly imagine.
Whether you’re into science, medicine, world culture, history, economics or even teddy bears, there’s a museum in Edinburgh that’s sure to intrigue, thrill and fascinate you.
Museums in Edinburgh
National Museum of Scotland
Arguably Edinburgh’s largest and busiest museum, the National Museum of Scotland has a range of exhibits from around the world, showcasing art, design and fashion, the natural world, science and technology, Scottish history and archaeology and world cultures.
Before you explore the exhibits on display, take a moment to take in the striking architecture of the Grand Gallery, a beautiful example of Victorian design with soaring high pillars, large windows and a magnificent glass ceiling that floods the gallery with natural light. From here you can walk through to the contemporary building, dedicated to telling Scotland’s story through fascinating displays and artefacts.
Top Tip 1: Make the most of your trip by taking part in one of the new self-guided trails. These include a Family Puzzle trail, a Staff Top Picks trail, and an audio-led Reset trail to help you find moments of calm and mindfulness.
The museum is free to visit. Some special exhibitions are chargeable.
Museum of Edinburgh
Found in the iconic bright yellow Huntly House, The Museum of Edinburgh is a must-visit for anyone who wants to discover the story of our city. Take a look at the collar which once belonged to Greyfriar’s Bobby, see James Craig’s original plans of the New Town, get lost in a spectacular collection of silver and read the historically significant National Covenant.
In addition to the permanent collections, there is a regular programme of special exhibitions hosted at the museum.
Top Tip: This museum should definitely be on the do-list of Outlander fans – Huntly House featured in season 3 of the popular TV series.
The Museum of Edinburgh is free to visit, with donations welcome.
Surgeons’ Hall Museums
If you’re fascinated by the wonders of the human body, these museums on Nicolson Street are a must-visit.
Owned by The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Surgeons’ Hall Museums consist of The Wohl Pathology Museum, The History of Surgery Museum, The Dental Collection and Body Voyager. The museums reopened in 2015 after an extensive refurbishment, making the collections more engaging and accessible than ever before.
The Wohl Pathology Museum is one of the largest collections of pathological anatomy in the world, with rows of cabinets filled with well-preserved specimens that give a fascinating insight into the human body. Go across the hall to The History of Surgery Museum and explore Edinburgh’s significant contribution to surgical practice across the globe, including some of the more grisly details (keep an eye out for the pocketbook which is said to be made out of the skin of bodysnatcher William Burke), and learn about the development of dentistry from its earliest days to modern times in The Dental Collection.
Museum of Childhood
Take a trip down memory lane and explore the first museum in the world dedicated to the history of childhood.
With five galleries to explore, at The Museum of Childhood you’ll find fascinating and rare objects from childhoods past, including toys, games, clothes, books and dolls dating from the 1800s to the present day.
Old or young, this museum is sure to delight all ages.
Top tip: Don’t miss Stanbrig Eorls, the largest dolls house in the museum’s collection. Dating from 1894 and donated to the museum in the 1960’s, it has 19 rooms and even electric light and running water!
St Cecilia’s Hall: Concert Room and Music Museum
Discover one of the world’s most important collections of musical instruments and Scotland’s oldest purpose built concert hall within the impressive St Cecilia’s Concert Room and Music Museum.
With over 400 objects across four stunning galleries, explore the stories behind musical instruments dating back to the 16th century, along with the characters behind their creation.
In addition to gallery exhibitions, St Cecilia’s also host a lively and engaging programme of events throughout the year, from concerts and talks to workshops and tours.
Top tip: Don’t miss the most famous harpsichord in the world in the Binks Gallery – the Taskin 1769.
The Writers’ Museum
Celebrate the lives of Scotland’s greatest writers, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson at the architecturally enthralling Lady Stair’s House, built in 1622.
At the Writers’ Museum you can see Robert Burns’ writing desk, the printing press on which Scott’s Waverley novels were produced and many more.
Free to visit, with donations welcome.
Queensferry Museum showcases the past and traditions of historic Queensferry and neighbouring Dalmeny.
As well as permanent displays, the museum hosts a room dedicated to temporary exhibitions, curated by community groups.
With stunning views out onto the Firth of Forth and UNESCO World Heritage site, the Forth Bridge, whether your interest is social history, folk traditions or civic engineering, there’s something here for everyone at this small but enjoyable museum.
Free to visit, with donations welcome.
National War Museum
Located Edinburgh Castle, the National War Museum shines a light on 400 years of Scotland’s military history.
Through a collection of uniforms, medals, weapons, paintings, ceramics and silverware, it explores life in the armed forces, right up to the current day.
Access included with admission to Edinburgh Castle.
There’s always a lot happening in Edinburgh
From special exhibitions to festivals, shows to workshops…
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