History of National Museums Scotland

Discover our story from the 18th century to the present day.

1780-11-14 00:00:00

The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland is founded

Very much in the spirit of the Enlightenment, the Society was formed to collect the archaeology of Scotland. Its collections passed into public ownership in 1851 as the original collections of the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland. These collections, which had had various homes previously, were housed from 1891 until 1995 in specially built galleries in Finlay Buildings, Queen Street, Edinburgh (also occupied by the Scottish National Portrait Gallery).

1854-10-30 02:20:48

Industrial Museum of Scotland founded

In 1854, an Act of Parliament established funding for the Industrial Museum of Scotland, to be built in Edinburgh. George Wilson, Professor of Technology at the University of Edinburgh, was appointed as the first director. While new premises were being built on Chambers Street, the Museum opened in Argyll Place in 1862.

1861-10-23 00:00:00

Prince Albert lays the foundation stone of the Industrial Museum of Scotland

The museum on Chambers Street was designed by the renowned Victorian architect Francis Fowke (1823-1865), who also designed the Albert Hall, parts of the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum in London. Laying the foundation stone was to be Prince Albert's last public engagement before his death in December.

1866-05-01 18:05:03

Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art opens

In 1864, the Industrial Museum of Scotland was renamed the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art. The new Museum opened on Chambers Street in May 1866. It was opened by Prince Alfred, Queen Victoria's second son.

1904-05-01 18:05:03

Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art renamed

In 1904, the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art was renamed the Royal Scottish Museum.

1930-04-17 00:00:00

National War Museum founded

The National War Museum was founded at Edinburgh Castle as the Scottish Naval and Military Museum. It became the Scottish United Services Museum on re-opening after the Second World War, the new title recognising the development of the Royal Air Force as the third of the armed services. In 1970 it became part of the Royal Scottish Museum and in 2000, the refurbished museum reopened as the National War Museum of Scotland.

1974-01-01 11:41:12

National Museums Collection Centre founded

In 1974 the National Museum of Antiquities obtained occupation of a building in Granton for storing museum artefacts. In 1992 the Treasury authorised the purchase of the site. Since then, it has been continually developed and improved. Now known as the National Museums Collection Centre, it is home to over 3.5 million items. It also contains state of the art laboratories, where our conservators care for and research our collections, and our photography and taxidermy studios.

1975-07-07 15:06:10

National Museum of Flight opens

In 1971, the Ministry of Defence donated a Supermarine Spitfire to the Royal Museum in Edinburgh. Due to lack of space to accommodate the aeroplane, the museum was granted permission to acquire one of the hangars of RAF East Fortune in East Lothian, as a storehouse for aeronautical exhibits. With this, the seeds were sown for the development of the National Museum of Flight. The museum officially opened to the public on 7 July 1975.

1985-04-24 15:06:10

National Museums Scotland established

In 1985 the Royal Scottish Museum was amalgamated with the National Museum of Antiquities. This created what is now known as National Museums Scotland, the largest multi-disciplinary museum in Scotland.

1998-04-01 00:00:00

Museum of Scotland opens

The Museum of Scotland opens in a new building in Chambers Street, designed by architects Benson and Forsyth. The Museum was opened by Queen Elizabeth II.

History of National Museums Scotland

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