The Museum of Scotland

Museum of Scotland, Twilight.
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Museum of Scotland, Twilight.

Interlinked with the Victorian Royal Museum in Edinburgh's Chambers Street is the Museum of Scotland. This strikingly modern structure was built by Benson and Forsyth in 1999, having caused much controversy, with HRH Prince Charles notably deprecating the plans. Yet, it became a runner-up for the Stirling Prize for architecture in 1999.

Bringing together the collections of the Royal Scottish Museum and the former National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland this museum, for the first time, provides Scotland with a national resource devoted to its history and culture. Through a series of unusually connected multi-level galleries, the story of Scotland is told from the formation of its landscape through to the present day. A range of Scotland's cultural icons are incorporated within unique surroundings and the museum has proven to be a highly popular attraction.

The National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland has its origins around 1780, with the foundation of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. In 1890, it gained purpose-built premises (shared with the Scottish National Portrait Gallery on Queen Street) when newspaper proprietor John Ritchie Findlay (1824-98) gave a substantial sum to the nation for the creation of a museum to hold the collections of the Society. Notable amongst the collection are Bronze Age weapons found in Duddingston Loch in 1778, the Lewis chess-pieces and the Hunterston Brooch. By the late 20th century the collection had outgrown these Victorian premises which were given over solely to the Portrait Gallery.

While controversial externally, the new building works marvellously inside, with soaring well-lit spaces, surprising niches and intimate areas where the exhibits merge with the fabric of the building. The moorland roof-garden provides spectacular views toward Edinburgh Castle and the roof-tops of the Royal Mile, as well as South and West Edinburgh.

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