Refurbished £14.1 million National Museum of Scotland set to open

Hoskins Architects and consultancy Metaphor have transformed ten gallery spaces in Edinburgh’s National Museum of Scotland, making room for more science, technology and design exhibits.

Visualisation of National Museum of Scotland's Grand Gallery © Sean Bell.
National Museum of Scotland’s Grand Gallery © Sean Bell.

The refurbished National Museum of Scotland is set to open next month, and will see much more space dedicated to science, technology and design exhibits.

Ten galleries have been recreated at the museum, a Grade A listed Victorian building based on Chambers Street in Edinburgh, in a £14.1 million project to give 40% more space to collections including science and technology, decorative arts, fashion and design. The redevelopment project also marks the museum’s 150th anniversary.

A new roof to allow more light

The design project has been led by consultancy Metaphor, which created the exhibition and interior design of the galleries, and architect Hoskins Architects, which created the masterplan.

Kirsten Stewart, project architect at Hoskins, says that one of the biggest parts of the architectural project was in replacing the roof of the science and technology galleries with glazing, to allow more natural, diffused light to enter the space.

Hoskins was working on site for roughly a year, but the architectural practice has worked with the museum for ten years previously on building various other gallery spaces, staff space and accommodation areas.

Six new science and technology galleries

Interactive exhibits are at the core of the six new science and technology galleries, which will feature more than 250 visitor activities.

These include a giant hamster wheel, which visitors can climb inside and run in to generate kinetic energy to power lights in the space, and a game where visitors can create their own digital genetic tests.

The area will also feature “world first” objects, including Dolly the Sheep, the first ever cloned animal preserved, a rare Apple MK 1, one of the first home computers, the first bionic arm, the first MRI scanner and the Baird Televisor, the first television set put into production.

Within the atrium of the science and technology section will be historical aviation objects hung from the ceiling, including Britain’s earliest surviving aircraft Pilcher’s Hawk. The first British motorbike, The Holden Motorcycle, the first steam locomotive and the first hydrogen car used in the UK will also be on display, alongside a series of Formula 1 racing cars.

Four new fashion, decorative arts and design galleries

The other four refurbished galleries will be dedicated to fashion and design, with the museum’s first ever permanent fashion gallery now on show. This will include pieces from designers such as Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood.

Other design pieces will include furniture by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and ceramics by artists including Eduardo Paolozzo, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braques.

The refurbished National Museum of Scotland will open on 8 July. The museum receives more than 2.3 million visitors yearly.

Visualisation of Enquire Gallery
Visualisation of Enquire Gallery
Visualisation of Grand Gallery
Grand Gallery
Visualisation of Science and Technology Galleries' atrium
Visualisation of Science and Technology Galleries’ atrium
Visualisation of Fashion and Style Gallery
Visualisation of Fashion and Style Gallery


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  • Miguel Nieto June 14, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Ah, where is it? If you write about a place, or an event, it would be helpful to mention in what city, or country, it is in. I googled it and found out it’s in Edinburgh, which is great, ’cause I live there. Why I never heard of the museum? I’m somewhat still new to the city and I’m still discovering it’s many interesting places.

    • Sarah Dawood June 14, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      Hi Miguel, thanks for spotting – a reference to Edinburgh has been added for clarity. Thanks, Design Week team.

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