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A permanent record of the Scotland's past

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Beginnings Gallery
Discovery Zones
Connect Gallery
Dolly the Sheep
Edinburgh is a city with a long and fascinating history, so it's useful to have all its stories gathered in the same place. However, this is just one part of the National Museum's goal. The collection's roots are in 1780, when The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland was formed to protect local archaeology. From this beginning the organisation's scope has evolved to cover the country's entire culture and atmosphere. It's like a tiny version of Scotland, crammed inside a single building.
The National Museum also runs separate galleries in other parts of the country, focusing respectively on War, Flight, Costume and Rural Life. However, its Edinburgh headquarters is by far the biggest and most comprehensive.

Inside the National Museum of Scotland
Photo Shadowgate
At different stages of its past, Scotland has been covered in desert, ice, water and volcanoes. These early days are examined in the Beginnings Gallery. Fossils show the history of life, starting with the remains of a creature that has become affectionately known as Lizzie the Lizard. She could be a relative of all Britain's living reptiles. You'll also see the remains of an aquatic dinosaur, which some claim is the real Loch Ness Monster. However, during the creature's life the lake would have been completely frozen, so this idea is possibly a little fanciful.
We don't know too much about the first human beings in Scotland, but the Early People exhibit has plenty of examples of their tools and decorations. From here, the museum moves on to cover the Roman, Medieval and Industrial eras. The various "Discovery Zones" dotted around the building give you a chance to try these parts of the past on for size. You can pull on a shirt of Roman chainmail or have a go at firing a catapult!
Elsewhere, the museum's coverage extends right the way up to the modern age. One of the most popular exhibits is Dolly the sheep, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell. In the Connect Gallery, you can see forward into a world of robots, or look back to how James Watt's invention of the steam engine helped propel the world forward - in more ways than one.

Dolly the Sheep
Photo wsuph001
Another Scottish inventor was Alexander Bell. He's recognised as the man who gave us the telephone, but in truth he may not have been the first person to come up with the idea. The "Communicate!" display attempts to solve this mystery. It also uses games and activities to explain about the rise of communication technology in general, from Morse code to email.
If you don't know where to start with such a comprehensive selection of exhibitions, then you can take part in one of the guided tours. These are available in a variety of flavours, with themes including anything from railways to bagpipes. Whichever path you choose to take, you'll inevitably leave the building at least slightly brainier than you were when you went in.
The National Museums "Royal Museum Project" is scheduled for completion by 2012 making it bigger and brighter. This £46 million scheme completely transforms sections of the building to allow for many new galleries and exhibits, giving it a total floor space of about 7000 square metres.
Visitor Information
The National Museum Of Scotland is open daily from 10am to 5pm. Entry is FREE. Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF. Tel: 0300 123 6789

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