Special Collections: National Museums Scotland Archive


The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland was founded in 1780, to collect the archaeology of Scotland. Its collections passed into public ownership in 1858 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.

The Industrial Museum of Scotland was founded in 1854. Renamed the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art, it opened in its first bespoke buildings, designed by Francis Fowke, in Chambers Street in 1866. In 1904 it was renamed as the Royal Scottish Museum.

In 1985 the National Museum of Antiquities was amalgamated with the Royal Scottish Museum to create the National Museums of Scotland (rebranded as National Museums Scotland in 2006), the largest multi-disciplinary museum in Scotland, with four million items in its collections.

National Museums Scotland now includes the National Museum of Flight, the National War Museum, the National Museum of Rural Life.


The National Museums Scotland archive contains Directors papers and correspondence, annual reports, registers, scrapbooks, illustrations, plans photographs and other museum records.

Additional correspondence of Directors and Keepers of the Museum can also be found in Museum staff

Francis Fowke. Preliminary drawing of the great hall of the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art c1860. IS.2009.13