Some of the best museums and galleries in Scotland are found in Edinburgh – and many of them are free to enter. The city is small by most standards but it has an incredible range of cultural attractions that vary from historic to art to unusual. Three of the best cover everything
from Scottish history to modern art.

1. National Museum of Scotland

National Museum of Scotland animal giraffe
Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rosedavies/

Location: Chambers St, Edinburgh EH1 1JF, United Kingdom
Hours: Daily: 10 a.m. -5 p.m, check website for holiday hours
WebsiteClick here

Possibly the best museum experience in the city, this place is diverse and huge, displaying artifacts and curiosities from all aspects of Scottish life. It was created in 2006 when the Museum of Scotland which housed antiquities, culture and history collections merged with the Royal Museum that covered natural history, world cultures, science and technology in its collections. Admission to both buildings is free and although they are connected, the 1860 cast-iron central hall of the former Royal Museum is quite distinct from the modern design of its partner, first opened in 1998.

The newer building is set up chronologically with Scottish pre-history galleries in the lowest level and the newest displays on the higher levels. The Monymusk Reliquary is a beautiful example of Gaelic and Pictish design originating in the eight century and featuring metalwork likely done by Ionan monks. St. Ninian’s Isle Treasure of medieval silverwork is here as well as some Celtic brooches, 11 of the 12th century Lewis chessman, Pictish stones and Roman artefacts. An early guillotine known as the Maiden is on display and science buffs can take a look at the stuffed remains of Dolly the sheep, the world’s first animal cloned from an adult cell.

The museum also hosts events and exhibitions which may be on loan or created from the vast collection. Family events strive to bring the magic of history to children by presenting the more interesting items in a child-friendly way or by letting visitors handle replicas of real treasures. Evening talks aimed at an older audience bring the past to life by combining experts on a particular event with art and artifacts from the same period.

 

National Museum of Scotland
Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/paullew/

The museum also hosts events and exhibitions which may be on loan or created from the vast collection. Family events strive to bring the magic of history to children by presenting the more interesting items in a child-friendly way or by letting visitors handle replicas of real treasures. Evening talks aimed at an older audience bring the past to life by combining experts on a particular event with art and artifacts from the same period.

 

2. National Museum of Flight

National Museum of Flight scotland
Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/neillwphoto/


Location: East Fortune Airfield, East Lothian EH39 5LF
Hours: 28 March – 1 November: daily 10 a.m. -5 p.m.; November – March weekends only 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
WebsiteClick here

Housed in the original wartime buildings of the Royal Air Force Station of East Fortune, the entire site of the museum is a monument and no new buildings have been added. The hangars that hold most of the display are original as are the stores and control tower. The collection has been growing since 1909 when the Royal Scottish Museum acquired a Hawk glider, Wright Model A and Bleriot XI. The collection now covers all aspects of aviation and contains aircraft and other flight artefacts.

Only a portion of the aircraft in the collection is on display while some of the hangars are undergoing renovation but include some of the more popular planes. The Aerospatiale-BAC Concorde is one of only two supersonic transports used in commercial service. It seated around 100 passengers and could reach Mach 2.04 which is over twice the speed of sound. Several de Havillands are on display along with the Hawker Siddeley Harrier – the oldest one in existence.

Czechoslovak Air Force LETOV S-103 (MiG-15bis
Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/st33vo/

A large number of piston engines, turbo-jets –fans and –props are in the collection with a small subset on display with other aircraft parts. Uniforms (civil and military), medals, weapons (missiles, cannons and bombs), documents, photographs and models – including a wind tunnel model - are also available for viewing.

The museum holds an annual air show in the summer and multiple events throughout the year. Tours are given daily and the interactive family gallery has flight simulators and control panel displays to excite young pilots.

 

3. Scottish National Gallery

Scottish National Gallery
Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hunky_punk/


National | Gallery

Location: The Mound, Edinburgh, EH2 2EL
Hours: Daily 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., Thursdays until 7 p.m.
WebsiteClick here

National | Modern Art
Location: 75 Belford Road, Edinburgh, EH4 3DR
Hours: Open daily, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
WebsiteClick here

National | Portrait Gallery
Location: 1 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JD.
Hours: Open daily, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., Thursdays until 7 p.m.
WebsiteClick here

First opened in 1859, the gallery holds fine art from the Renaissance up to the beginning of the 20th century. The collection actually began with the Royal Institution for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts in Scotland in 1819 and expanded when the Royal Scottish Academy began creating a national collection.

Some of the most-recognized names in art are included in the collection – Bernini, Boticelli, Van Dyck, Gaugin and others. Three paintings by El Greco are on display and five of the works of Titian are here. Most of the most-notable paintings can be seen by following a self-guided tour recommended by the Gallery.

There are several areas that feature changing exhibits that often have an admission charge, but the regular collection, displays and most events are all free. The displays organize the art by style and artist with most of the lower level dedicated to Scottish artists. Special events include art lectures, lessons and tours of the highlights in the Gallery.

 


Do your plans to Scotland include any of the aforementioned galleries?
Let us know - comment below! 

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