The National Museum of Scotland has existed since 2006, as the banner heading under which the adjacent and interconnected Museum of Scotland and Royal Museum were combined into one entity. The main section of this expansive site is the old Museum, a grand Victorian building which dates back to 1866 and whose defining feature, alongside its imposing façade, is a huge vaulted Grand Gallery with balcony levels at each of the building’s three floors. The adjoining former Royal Museum is a more modern, 1998-vintage extension with a distinctive corner turret.
Reopened after an extensive refurbishment in 2011, the National Museum has become an extremely popular destination with tourists and locals alike, with children particularly well catered for. There is a large, all-ages play area to the rear of the first floor and a more educational play space for older children on the top level, while many exhibits feature a significant degree of interactivity. In particular the Natural World gallery, a three-level space filled with hung and standing stuffed and model animals from around the world, and a recreated Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, is a favourite.
Other galleries focus on science and technology, world cultures and Scottish history and archaeology, while the exhibition gallery features changing displays of significant areas of interest from the museum’s extensive off-site collection. There is also a learning area, while food can be enjoyed in the less formal Balcony Café, the Museum Brasserie in the basement entrance vault of the old Museum or the Tower Restaurant in the former Royal Museum.