Night at the Museum: The National Museum of Scotland

Scotland is best known for many things, such as beautiful landscapes, castles, and producing the finest scotch whisky. But if you had to guess what was Scotland’s most visited attraction, what would you guess? Maybe the country’s stunning landscapes? Perhaps one of the country’s spectacular castles? Or possibly Loch Ness where “Nessie,” the infamous Loch Ness Monster, was allegedly sighted? Actually, it’s none of those answers; many would be surprised that the most visited attraction in Scotland is really the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

There are several reasons why the museum is the most visited attraction. For one thing (and maybe the biggest thing) is the museum is completely free! Yes, you read that right, FREE!! It’s funded through the lottery and donations, thus no charge is required. Any free activity is a good activity in my book!

Be sure to check out the second most visited attraction in Scotland: The Edinburgh Castle

Aside from being free of charge for admission, the National Museum of Scotland also houses an impressive collection of exhibits of numerous major subject matters, including biology, geology, astrology, fashion, technology, architecture, aviation, world history, arts, Scottish history, and much more! Even the museum itself has architectural and historical significance being over 230 years old! For all the museums I’ve visited, I don’t remember any of them covering such a broad range of topics so I am amazed at content the museum provides.

We visited the museum during the late afternoon, which was already getting dark by then, and the first exhibit we went into was the animal world exhibit, which was easily my favorite since I love animals. If anyone has seen the movie series, “Night at the Museum,” you may remember that there’s a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, named “Rexy,” that comes to life and acts like a dog. Well, when we walked into the exhibit, the first thing we came upon was a huge T-Rex skeleton. And for a moment I was hoping it’d come to life so I could play fetch with it (though there was that possibility of a not-so-fuzzy outcome either with a giant dinosaur skeleton with sharp teeth and claws).

Beyond the T-Rex were other dinosaur skeletons before it moves onto animals in more modern times. The exhibit covers many animals groups, from mammals to reptiles, herbivores to carnivores, land animals to marine animals, and just about everything in between. You can also find the famous sheep, “Dolly,” which was the first ever cloned mammal (though in another exhibit). If you like animals, this is the place to check out!

Like many large museums, you would need several visits to adequately go through all of the different exhibits. Unfortunately, we didn’t have that kind of time so we only spent a little over two hours until closing time. We mostly just walked through the museum to see what other exhibits had but didn’t stay too long in each one.

The only other exhibits we spent a bit more time were the technology and the Scotland history exhibits. The technology exhibit is really fun with many interactive pieces and displays ranging from planes, automobiles, locomotives, computers/phones, and other technological advances. I also liked the Scotland exhibits which go through the country’s history and has many historical artifacts on display, such as giant ceremonial swords and the “Maiden,” which is a guillotine used during executions.

So, if you’re looking for a fun and free activity to do in Scotland, be sure to make a visit to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Just don’t expect things to come to life like in the movies! Let us know what exhibit you would be excited to check out in the museum and be sure to visit their website for more information:

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National Museum of Scotland

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  1. Such a visually exciting place. I loved the telephone exhibit and the wide variety of animals. I am going to share this with my friend who has a lifelong dream to visit Scotland. She would enjoy this place.

  2. Whoa, cool pics! I especially like the dinosaur skeleton. Several visits to see everything though!??! That’s craziness! 😛 I usually skip museums while traveling (I know, I’m horrible) but this one sounds cool, especially if you just roamed for a few hours and still enjoyed it (without having to go several times). Thanks for sharing!

    1. That’s only if you want to see it thoroughly and soak in all of the info, since it’s a learning experience of all different things! But otherwise, you can get through the whole museum in a few hours if you really wanted to! I think this would be a museum you’d enjoy since it’s very different from most museums you may be accustomed to hearing about.

  3. Wow! Another beautiful post guys! I was shocked to hear that this is the number one most visited site in Scotland! We’ve been going to a lot of museums lately and the architecture inside this one is absolutely gorgeous! It is so clean and unique. The exhibits also look fantastic! Definitely bookmarking this thank you!

    1. I was surprised too! It flip flops with the Edinburgh Castle but the museum took the win in 2016 by just a hair.

  4. NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM IS SHOT IN EDINBURGH!!! Absolute game changer! I didn’t realise there was a National Museum of Scotland, looks beautiful

  5. The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh is housed in a beautiful building, I can imagine it’s the top attraction in Scotland and the fact that its’ free is an added bonus! The history of telephones and the display of telephones looks very interesting. The guillotine looks a little scary though, especially if really was night at the museum!

  6. Dolly the sheep is there?!? How did I not know that??? Having been to the National Museums in Cardiff & London, I feel it’s only natural I go to Edinburgh next! I actually have a potential trip in the pipeline so will definitely have to add this to the itinerary. Love museums, love dinosaurs, love free things & love dolly the sheep. Altogether my ideal place! 😀

    1. For some reason, I didn’t take a photo of Dolly but she’s definitely there! You’ll have a lot of fun there. Me and my brother were going a bit wild in there!

  7. A free museum! It’s incredible considering it’s completely free; not like most who suggest it’s free then you need to pay individual fees to each exhibit. The animal world exhibit looked amazing from your photos. I would totally want the T-Rex to come alive as well. I have always been incredibly fascinated by dinosaurs. I also would love to see the Technology exhibit and the Fashion one. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Wow, I totally missed this museum last time I was in Edinburgh. Maybe the whiskey was too distracting;) It sounds like an amazing, world-class museum. You can’t go wrong with T-rex and giant swords …

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