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The best museums in Edinburgh and Glasgow

Love museums? You’ve come to the right place. Scotland’s rich history means we have some of the best.
  • The Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh tells the nation’s story. A must see.
  • The Riverside Museum, Glasgow. A stunning building packed with more than 3000 exhibits that chart our transport history and a Tall Ship to explore. All free and a favourite for young and the not so young.
  • The Burrell Collection, Pollok Country Park, Glasgow, holds a breathtaking collection of 8000 beautiful works of art, all collected by a single man, William Burrell.
  • The Museum of Childhood, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, is small, quirky and  will have you rolling back the years to days of tin soldiers, slightly scary dolls and Meccano. A treat for all ages. 

    Edinburgh and Glasgow were built on the people who lived and worked within their boundaries. Visit the People’s Palace at Glasgow Green and the People’s Museum in Edinburgh’s Canongate to find out who they were.

Both cities have lots of great museums that are worth a visit. Which are your favourites?


  • eliseandlifeeliseandlife VisitScotland Contributor ✭✭
    I love the Riverside Museum.  The People's Palace, the Huntarian and Kelvingrove in Glasgow are all worth a visit, and the Museum Resource Centre does tours sometimes, it's a great place to look around if you get the chance.
  • FullStopNextChapterFullStopNextChapter VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭
    Sometimes people think of museums as stuffy boring places and don't even bother visiting. I loved visiting Kelvingrove Museum. A great range of artifacts, a spitfire (yes indoors), modern art and the building itself is quite something.

    I love the fact that it is free to enter (although a small donation can be made) and it is suitable for all ages. 
    Join in my new chapter over on the blog. Discovering all things that make Scotland the place everyone wants to visit. 

  • VisitScotlandAmyRVisitScotlandAmyR Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    In Edinburgh, anyone with a fascination for the macabre (or biological science) should visit Surgeon's Hall Museum. As well as containing thousands of jars of human specimens, there's a book which is said to be bound with the skin of notorious murderer William Burke! Creepy, and maybe not for the faint-hearted!
  • TheChaoticScotTheChaoticScot Member ✭✭✭
    Oh, I've always wanted to check out Surgeon's Hall Museum
    @VisitScotlandAmy! I kinda like weird stuff  :)
    Follow my adventures on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram 

    Have a wee nosey at my blog  

    Former tour guide and current blether. Edinburgh girl whose <3 is in the Scottish Islands. Talk to me about scenic walks, photography, places to eat, public transport, exciting adventures and history  :)
  • TheChaoticScotTheChaoticScot Member ✭✭✭
    I only visited the Kelvingrove for the first time recently
    @FullStopNextChapter and absolutely loved it. We had a fantastic guide take us around; Clare McLeod from Intermezzo Arts. She was a fountain of knowledge. Great given that I have a short attention span for reading all the wee blurbs! 

    I absolutely  <3 these expressions!

    Kay :)
    Follow my adventures on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram 

    Have a wee nosey at my blog  

    Former tour guide and current blether. Edinburgh girl whose <3 is in the Scottish Islands. Talk to me about scenic walks, photography, places to eat, public transport, exciting adventures and history  :)
  • VisitScotlandMiriamVisitScotlandMiriam Administrator, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    edited May 2016
    My Dad took his grandkids  to the National Museum of Flight recently and highly recommends it. The new hangars are really interactive and kept them all entertained. I was quite envious - must add it to my to-do list! 

    Here's a wee blog piece about all the new exhibits

    The Druine Turbulent image © National Museums Scotland

    I'm an Edinburgher who works in the VisitScotland Content Team - have you seen our blog?
  • VisitScotlandSheenaVisitScotlandSheena Member, Administrator, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    Ever since I was little I've loved wandering through the National Museum of Scotland on Edinburgh's Chambers Street. I'm not so little now, but it's still great to discover something different every time I visit. I'm very intrigued and look forward to the new galleries opening in a couple of months - decorative art, design, fashion, science and technology.

    Good timing during the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design!
  • travelswithakilttravelswithakilt VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭
    Love the National Museum in Edinburgh and loved exploring the cultural scene in Dundee last year - Discovery Point and Verdant Works in particular. Kelvingrove and the Riverside have been lifelong favourites though and wrote about Glasgow's top cultural spots the other week.
    Scotland travel blogger and writer with a wee bit of photography and video thrown in. Love nothing more than exploring my home country and have a particular leaning towards the outdoors, history and our national drink.

    You can also find me on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Tumblr.
  • VisitScotlandJulieVisitScotlandJulie Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    I do like a regular visit to The Writers' Museum inside Lady Stairs House - a tiny and impressive building you can reach by Lady Stairs Close off the Royal Mile. They have a great wee shop too. Also the Museum of Edinburgh is an absolute delight. It is another impressive building on the Royal Mile and quite labyrinthine. You could lose a few hours in there if you're not careful.
  • MargaretMargaret Member ✭✭
    Anyone been to the Tenement House in Glasgow - it's an NTS property??  Hoping to visit on next trip to Glasgow,
  • VisitScotlandJulieVisitScotlandJulie Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    @Margaret, I would also like to go to the Tenement House. It is indeed a National Trust for Scotland property and about a 20 minute walk from the Glasgow train stations. It's open March - October.
  • VisitScotlandMurielVisitScotlandMuriel Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    I love the People's Story opposite the Museum of Edinburgh. It depicts people in their own home/workshop and therefore is very visual - not much to read at all which I find is great for people with little English. Like all other council run museums it is free of charge although donations are welcome  :)
  • VisitScotlandMiriamVisitScotlandMiriam Administrator, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    edited July 2016
    Next time you're near the National Musuem of Scotland you should definitely take a look - even if you've been before, as a number of the exhibits have had an overhaul - take a look at the blog for more info:

    image © NMS
    I'm an Edinburgher who works in the VisitScotland Content Team - have you seen our blog?
  • ZubenelgenubiZubenelgenubi Member ✭✭
    +1 to the Riverside Museum. The Tall Ship is there as well which is well worth a look (seems so much bigger on the inside!) reasonable cup of coffee too.
    Awaiting arrival of witty signature.
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] ✭✭✭✭
    The Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh is an old favourite of mine.  Loved it since I was a child.  My favourite was always the haunted house machine with its ghosts and monsters hiding in cupboards and under chairs.  A couple of the dolls always make me feel sad.  They were handmade for poor children out of old scraps.  One is made out of an old shoe and another from a bone.  Hard to imagine these days children having to make do with toys like that.

    I love the People's Story too. The music and the smell of soap from the old steamie wash house display always reminds me of my Nana and brings back happy memories.
  • WinnieWinnie Member ✭✭
    I've just been to see the new galleries at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. What an amazing job they have done. The new fashion gallery was definitely my favourite. It's great to see the museum continuing to develop - it means that it appeals to visitors and locals - each time there is something new to discover. 
  • Agree, the new galleries at the national Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh are worth a visit, as is the National Museum of Flight in East Lothian! 
  • VisitScotlandJulieVisitScotlandJulie Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    I also loved the new galleries at National Museum of Scotland. Something for everyone.
  • EileanDonanEileanDonan Member ✭✭
    In Edinburgh, it has to be the National Museum of Scotland. Visited 5 times and still don't think I've done it justice. Glasgow really has to be Kelvingrove; a national treasure!
  • VisitScotlandMarinaVisitScotlandMarina Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    I went to Kelvingrove recently for the first time and thought it was great, even though I rushed it a little as I had a train to catch! But I will go back and time it better as I would like to hear the organist play. But my favourite is the People's Palace, complete with The Big Yin's boots!!
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