Scottish Museums Listings

They are institutions that collect, safeguard and make accessible artefacts and specimens, which they hold in trust for society, - A definition from The Museums Association (MA). There are approximately 265 national, regional and local museums in Scotland, offering visitors from the U.K and overseas a true sense of history, with interesting information and a varied display of artefacts.

Admission is free to all National Museums but they do sometimes charge for temporary exhibitions. Nearly all University museums and many local authority museums are free to visit. However, many of the independent, regional museums do charge an admission fee. Whatever the weather, museums are a fun day out for all the family. They bring learning to life for children, with many museums now offering different games and interactive experiences, allowing them to learn and discover for themselves.

There are many types of museums to visit, covering lots of different categories. The categories include: applied arts, anthropology, archaeology, botanical, children’s museums, craft, cultural history, ethnology, fine arts, history, natural history, science, technology and zoological gardens. Many museums specialize within one of the above categories, e.g., aviation history, military history or modern art. Encyclopedic museums, commonly known as a universal museum, have collections on a variety of world subjects, usually on art, cultural history, history and science.

Whichever region of Scotland you live in, or plan on taking a vacation to, from the Outer & Inner Hebrides to the Scottish Borders, each area has its very own museum/s for you to explore and learn. Visit the award winning Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum & Arts Centre on the Isle of North Uist, where you get to explore the domestic, social, economic, cultural and religious life of North Uist. View the permanent displays relating to the Coldstream Guards and the history of the parish, at the Coldstream Museum in the Scottish Borders.

The oldest public museum in Scotland is The Hunterian. It was founded in 1807 and houses one of the largest collections outside of the National Museums. It is home to the largest single holding of work from Charles Rennie Mackintosh, including The Mackintosh House, which has the reassembled interiors from his home in Glasgow. It was created as a museum of the Enlightenment, to hold the collections bequeathed by the anatomist Dr. William Hunter. The displays cover medicine, art and antiquities and natural history. It also boasts an extensive library and the first public gallery of paintings in Britain.

The “newest” museum is the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. After a £47m renovation and a three year programme, it re-opened on 29 July 2011. The original interior has been restored and storage areas changed into public space. It is now one of the UK’s largest museums, housing 20,000 objects over 36 galleries. With so many museums in Scotland, choosing which to visit can be difficult. From the smaller community ones, to the larger national museums, there's something to suit most tastes. If you're considering visiting a Scottish museum, why not use our extensive list to choose and plan your trip.