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The National Museum of Scotland located on the corner of George IV bridge and Chambers Street is a modern looking building surrounded by 18th and 19th century old fashioned buildings, it stands out among the other buildings in the area. The location of the museum is easily accessible from both Waverly Station and St Andrews Bus Station, you can get buses such as the 23, 35, 45, 27, from Princes Street which will take you to the museum with bus stops opposite.
The inside of the museum is very clean and looks like it is extremely well looked after, to enter the main body of the museum you have to walk past the gift shop and the cafe, which I feel is a great advertisement ploy to make you purchase items from the shop or from the cafe. The cafe is located next to the first room that we visited, I attended the museum with my boyfriend we are 23 and 25. This proves that the museum is fun for everyone even adults aged 23 and 25. The first room is aimed at children with various games, such as rocket power, renewable energy observation game, space machines, dolly the sheep, racing cars and train travel, where you can play games related to all of these aspects of science.
The Scottish parts of the museum covers all memorable parts of scottish history and has artifacts dating back to all eras, there are items from the Jacobite rebellion, the battles of culloden etc. The museum also has inspiring quotes written on the wall, such as quotes from Braveheard, stated by William Wallace, which inspires Scottish heritage and patriotism. The first object which was noticeable when we visited, was Jackie Stewarts formula one racing car, along with his helmet and his suit, this is a great part of scottish racing history. The museum also covers all major aspects of Scottish life, such as communication, travel, by road, rail, air and sea as well as famous sports people, which they also have a room dedicated to these.
The other half of the museum is dedicated solely to animals, with many models of every animal you could ever think of, from both land and sea. The museum has animals of featured displays from the natural habitat of the various animals, such as the forest, the sea or the desert. There are also animals hanging from the ceiling which makes for interesting displays. There are also features where you can see how much you weigh and which animal you are most alike. You are not permitted to touch any of the displays, but this doesnt take away from the fun and interaction which can be had in the museum.
Overall I would say that the National Museum of Scotland is a fun and interesting day out, with lots to see and do, it is very time consuming but very fun at the same time, even for big kids like my boyfriend and myself. On the whole it is fun, considering it is free admission it is well worth the visit if you have a free day in Edinburgh.
One of the most striking new landmarks in Edinburgh?s historic Old Town has got to be the new Museum of Scotland, which was opened by the Queen in December 1998. Designed by architects Benson and Forsyth, it has been described as the finest Scottish building of the twentieth century; I certainly found it an impressive and original structure. My visit to the museum last week was again part of my postgraduate course in museum studies, so I was looking at everything there with a critical eye; I hope that this viewpoint will lead to an op that other members find useful and informative. ● Location The Museum of Scotland can be found on Chambers Street in Edinburgh, which lies between George IV Bridge and South Bridge, a short walk from the castle and Waverly Station. It is a large and well signposted building, and should be marked on any new map of the city centre. As the museum is open all day (10am to 5pm Mon to Sat; Tues open late to 8pm; Sun 12noon to 5pm) it is possible to make a day trip from pretty much any other city in the north - I came from Newcastle, which took 3 hours by road (about 90 minutes by train though). Admission is free to all, but there may be a charge for some temporary exhibits. ● Museum Layout Within this building are housed vast collections (estimated to be around 3 million items) that tell the full story of Scotland?s history for the first time - only around 11% are actually on display at any one time, but believe me this is more than enough to be getting on with! The various displays cover every aspect of Scottish heritage; its land, environment, people and achievements; right from geological times until the twentieth century across six floors. On level 0 (below entrance level) are the beginnings of Scotland. Here are housed the geological collections that tell you how Scotland came to be formed, how the mountains were shaped, how the climate changed and about the ice age that f
ormed the highland landscapes we are so familiar with today. Also on this floor are the "early people" displays, which house archaeological artefacts from as far back as 8000BC arranged in thematic order, covering domestic life, trade, spiritual life, warfare and death. Some of the more famous items on display are the Hunterston brooch and the Crammond Lioness. Upstairs one flight on level 1 (entrance level) and level 2 is the Kingdom of the Scots, which tells the story of Scotland?s emergence as a distinct nation, the formation of a kingship and the struggle for independence, from 900 to 1707. This floor houses some real icons of the Scottish past, such as the declaration of Arbroath, and items relating to Mary Queen of Scots, Robert the Bruce and Saint Andrew. On level 3 is Scotland Transformed, which covers the time from 1707 to the nineteenth century and charts the country's move from a mainly rural society to one of expanding towns and cities. Exhibits here tell of the Union of 1707 between Scotland and England and the following political tension and unrest, the Jacobite risings and Bonnie Prince Charlie, as well as the Enlightenment and the first large industrial machines. Up on levels 4 and 5 can be found the Industry and Empire section of the museum that ranges from the nineteenth century to 1914. These floors have sections on the new industries that came to Scotland such as shipbuilding, railway engineering and whisky distilling (but no free samples I'm afraid!). Level 5 also has displays on Scotland?s society in these changing times, including sport, leisure, scientific innovation and emigration to parts of the newly expanding British Empire. Finally, on level 6, is Scotland in the Twentieth Century, as represented by objects selected by members of the public - over 300 items from home, work, health, science, technology and education. This is where you can see Scotland?s modern cultural identity.
The exhibitions on each level are divided into themed areas, each of which is colour coded and marked on the plans displayed on the walls at various points. Cases are numbered to show the order intended, but basically you are free to wander around as you please. While many people find this lack of structured sequence annoying or confusing, it can also be liberating not to have to follow a pre-ordained route. It is advisable to pick up a map before you depart on your tour though! ● Facilities - Sound Guides are available from the entrance desk for £2 in English, Gaelic, French and German - Free guided tours depart daily; information on what is on each day is displayed at the entrance desk - Food is available at two cafes and in the tower restaurant, but it is quite expensive - A museum shop is open in the entrance hall, but again very expensive - The museum is fully accessible to those in wheelchairs, and the highlights leaflet is available in large type, Braille and audio formats ● My experience My first impression on entering the Museum of Scotland was what a marvellous entrance hall had been built - it was huge, four floors high, with an arched ceiling and two ponds with fountains on either side of it. The whole room was light and airy, combining the impressive nature of walking into a Victorian museum such as the Natural History museum in London, with an altogether more modern feel; I loved it! The free admission policy is designed to let anyone visit and experience their/Scotland's heritage, but I have heard that there have been complaints that such a "cathedral to science" style entrance may intimidate the very people the museum wants to encourage into it - I can see their point, but I hope that this is only a minority view as it is worth progressing into the museum itself. The collections are of course of particular interest to Scottish people, but this does n
ot mean that other nationalities will find it boring (I'm not Scottish BTW). In places, I felt that it was perhaps excessively nationalistic, but not in a way that I think anyone could be offended by. Most interpretation panels were well written and easy to understand, although I did feel that a little extra information might have been useful in places. Good use was made of interactive touch-screen technology to provide relief from just looking and reading panels, which is especially important if you want to keep children amused. I have to say that I did enjoy my afternoon in the National Museum, although this really isn't enough time to get around all of the exhibits - I would recommend 2 or 3 shorter repeat visits if possible to anyone thinking of going. The only real complaints that I have are the high prices charged by the cafes (£1-90 for a hot chocolate???) and that the toilets could be hard to find in places (apparently the architects didn?t want too many signs cluttering up their structure) - both hardly ideal if you are going with a family. Still I did feel that I learnt a lot from it and I would definitely go back and have a more leisurely look around the bits I missed if I had the chance; well worth a look if you are in or near to Edinburgh I reckon! ● More information Telephone ? (0131) 247 4422 Fax ? (0131) 2204819 Textphone ? (0131) 247 4027 Web ? www.nms.ac.uk Or write to - Museum of Scotland Chambers Street Edinburgh EH1 1JF
When you look at the Museum of Scotland from the outside it does not look like an enormous building, but when you get inside it is amazing just how much there is to see here. The museum is housed over six floors and the exhibits are displayed in chronological order starting at the basement with Early People (8000 BC) working up to the Twentieth Century on the sixth floor. The museum was only opened in December 1998 so there is a wonderful feeling of freshness about the whole place. The museum presents the history of Scotland, telling the story of the land, its people and their achievements. Over the different floors there are many rooms and halls and although you can get a plan of the whole museum in a free leaflet, we found it much better exploring around ourselves and stumbling across the different areas. Maybe this did mean that we may have missed a few things, but there is so much to see and do that it may not be a bad idea to leave some things to see on another visit. One real bonus for this building is the Roof Terrace. There is a spiral staircase (or lift) from the sixth floor up to the open air Roof Terrace where there is a fantastic view over the whole of Edinburgh and the surrounding area. It is worth going to this building for this view alone. Before you head for the roof go to the information desk where you can pick up a free leaflet showing the Edinburgh skyline and naming all the landmarks you can spot from the roof. From the 1st April 2001 entrance to the Museum of Scotland has been free and this obviously is great for visitors. Around the museum there are a large number of listening points, where you can listen to an audio tape giving more details or a history about a particular exhibit. There is also the ExhibIT which is a separate room with six PC’s giving full multi media information about the museum and the displays. There is also a full time member of staff in this room to help anybody not compu
ter literate or wanting a bit of assistance. Throughout the day there are free guided tours around the museum and as well as the times being displayed at the information desk, these are also announced over the PA system a few minutes before each one starts. A few of the exhibits really do need a special mention as for us they really stood out. There is a wonderful, very large beam engine in excellent condition, although unfortunately not functional any more. There is also a device known as The Maiden. This is a beheading machine, thankfully this is also non-functional, but there is an inter-active computer screen that shows how the guillotine would fall. (There is no blood!) On the third floor there is a Discovery Centre for the younger visitors, where there are many activities for them to participate in. It was also interesting for us older children. On the fifth floor there is a restaurant that looks very nice, but was too dear for us, for a three course meal it would probably cost about £30 each. The sixth floor represents the twentieth century where you will see a lot of items that you will recognise. (If you are older than 21!) There are early computers and game consoles, Bakelite radios, black and white televisions and some of the earliest microwaves and other kitchen appliances. There are also some bigger exhibits such as a Hillman Imp car, a steam train (yes, full size) and an early farm tractor. For the drinkers there was also a full size whiskey still, but no whiskey! On the first floor there is a gift shop with a wide variety of gifts and souvenirs to suit all ages, at all prices. Throughout the museum there are lots of seats where you can rest your legs for a bit, and you may well need a rest as there is so much to look at which means a lot of walking. For a museum that has only been opened for a copy of years it has already put together a whole series of galleries and displays that
reflect all aspects of life in Scotland over 10,000 years, in a truly excellent way. We were in the museum for hours and still did not see it all, but our legs were giving up by that time. The museum has an appeal for all age groups and I would certainly recommend a visit for anybody going to Edinburgh.
The best way to spend a wet miserable day in Edinburgh is to haul yourself down to the National Museum, for the price of a couple of pints you can spend the whole day marvelling at the achievements of your ancestors. Not only will you be entertained you will be educated too! Not suprisingly many of the exhibitions are directly related to Scottish history so I guess Scots will find it more interesting than most, but don't let put you off! As with most museums some bits might not be to your taste - I found the whole floor of dug up bronze bits and pieces a bit dull - but there is enough in the place to be able to move quickly on to the next display. If you feeling peckish lunch dinner can be had in the Tower restaraunt with spectacular views across to Edinburgh skyline (or so I have been told). And should you get bored with the exhibits you can always admire the stunning architecture of the buildings that make up the museum.
What happens to you after you die? Where will you be going? These are the questions that the exhibition "Heaven and Hell" is trying to answer. Well, the real answer is of course unknown, but this exhibition is a fascinating journey into rituals and beliefs about death worldwide. Its strength lies in its multicultural, comparative approach: For each of the relevant aspects of death and afterlife, the view is not restricted to one culture or a few religions. Instead, exhibits from different times and places give you a glimpse of the wide variety of approaches that humans have taken to understand and live with the experience of death and dying. The displayed objects are well chosen, and the explanations and introductory texts are clear and concise. Although the exhibition covers a surprisingly large range of topics and cultures, it still manages not to oversimplify and retain depth. For example, the corner on reincarnation in the section "Worlds of the dead" does not try to present the concept of reincarnation as a single, monolithic Eastern belief system (as is sometimes the case in popular books), but highlights the differences between e.g. India and China, where the mix of Buddhism (from India) with Confucianism lead to the idea of the somewhat bureaucratic "Di Yu" (prison of the earth), where souls are judged and have to serve a sentence before being allowed to reincarnate on Earth. Furthermore, the visitor can then compare the Far Eastern belief systems with reincarnation beliefs in Nigeria in the next showcase. Although death is a serious topic, the exhibition does not really leave you sad. Quite the opposite, I found myself fascinated by the many ways how humans deal with the serious experience of death and dying. Some of the practices and beliefs are quite unusual. For example, in the section "Farewell to the dead" (covers the different burial rites and methods like inhumation, creation, mummification,
cannibalism, tree burials etc.), the visitor is informed that in Ghana fantastic coffins in the shape of animals or even cars are en vogue. But: Even though the rituals are Christian, these fantasy coffins are only allowed in Church if they are in the shape of a Bible. And when you make "the final journey" (so the title of another section in the exhibition), do your relatives have to burn flight tickets from "Hell Airlines", a "Hell Passport" and some Cheques from "The Otherworld Bank"? These may seem as jokes (and obviously many visitors found it hilarious), but they are real items from contemporary funerals in Singapore. However, I would think that these items only seem funny to people with a Christian background who see the afterlife as a more spiritual place, where material gravegoods are of no use. In a wider cultural perspective, the ticket for "Hell Airlines" is not dissimilar to the coin that is needed for the ferry across the river Styx in ancient Roman beliefs, or - a step further - the boats in viking ship burials, or Egyptian model boats. In many cultures, the dead are given useful "Otherworldly possessions": From clothes and food to terracotta companions (e.g. in precolumbian Mexico or Peru) or even whole armies of terracotta servants (e.g. in Egypt and China). Also, it is a relief to know that you can now get a mobile phone in the afterlife - if your relatives burn a paper model, as can be seen in the section "the living and the dead". This section focusses on the rites that the living perform to commemorate the dead, from spiritualistic mediums to communal "days of the dead". Halloween e.g. is the remnant of a "day of the dead" - almost extinct in Europe after the reformation, it came to the USA with catholic Irishmen, and is now reimported back to Europe "with a heavy coating of cartoon horror". The exhibition is accompani
ed by a lavishly illustrated book - very useful, because the exhibition covers so many aspects and cultures that you certainly want to look up things later. However, the book does not have literature references - which is a serious shortcoming when you want to research one of the topics in more detail. Heaven and Hell - and other worlds of the dead 15 July 2000 - 11 February 2001 National Museum of Scotland Chambers Street No extra admission, but £3 to the museum if you don't have a season ticket Book: Alison Sheridan (ed.) Heaven and Hell and other worlds of the dead NMS publishing, Edinburgh 2000 ISBN 1-901663-41-8 168 S., £ 14.99 (£ 12.99 in the Musum shop)
Located on Chambers Street in Edinburgh, just across the street from Greyfriars Bobby, the Museum of Scotland tells the story of the country from the dawn of time through to modern-day life in Scotland, detailing the country's culture and wars, and addressing its history of scientific innovation and religion. There are six main sections to the museum, which are arranged chronologically. The first section "Beginnings" tells the early geological history of the country beginning 3,400 million years ago. Exhibits in this section are mainly rocks and fossils, and this region of the museum explains the establishment of the landscape and wildlife of the country. The second section, "Early People", looks into the first groups of men and women to settle in Scotland. There are exhibits of the artefacts that these early settlers left behind, and displays show what life was like in Scotland up to about 800 AD. The third section, "The Kingdom of the Scots", is the story of the country's emergence as a distinctive nation through to 1707, when the Scottish and English governments united. Exhibits in this section include objects connected with some of the most famous events and figures from the nation's history. A particular highlight is the Lewis chessmen from the 12th century. The fourth section, "Scotland Transformed" describes the nation's transformation from a rural society into a land of cities and towns, and deals with the 18th and early 19th century. Details of the Jacobite rebellion against the English, and the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie can be found in this section. The highlight is the Newcomen atmospheric engine, originally used to pump water from coal mines in Ayrshire. The fifth section, "Industry and Empire" deals with the impact of the Industrial revolution on life in Scotland, and how the country rapidly became one of the most industrialised in the wor
ld thanks to Scottish innovation. There are several model ships and locomotives on display, as well as a copper wash from a whisky distillery. The final section, "Twentieth Century" describes what life is like in Scotland today, and has many modern Scottish objects on display – from comic book character Oor Willie to Irn Bru, from Doc Martens to the television. The Museum packs in a lot of history, and a large collection of important historical artefacts, and is well worth a visit. The staff of the museum are well-informed and very helpful too. The layout is somewhat confusing, however, and it's easy to deviate from the chronological path around it, and miss out on some of the exhibits. The ticket also includes admission to the neighbouring Royal Museum of Scotland which contains more displays of the country's wildlife and shows how various innovations have changed life in Scotland over the last hundred years or so. It also has an impressive collection of artefacts from around the world.
Edinburgh's National Museum of Scotland is a massive building housing items from thousands of years ago up until things that were only invented in the last decade. Each floor contains items from a particular period, i.e the industrial age, and some of the exibits are really quite good. However there is a problem, the floor plan is not that great. The building has several internal walls dividing up each level and with some of the exibits being really quite large (they had to crane the steam engine into place and build the walls around it) there is no obvious structure to each level. This means that you can wander around in what at first appears to be a reasonable order and then suddenly find items reffering to things you have yet to see. Don't let this problem put you off though, some of the exibits are really good, and there is so much you can just skip whatever you don't find interesting. Leave at least half a day to see round most things.