We’re lucky to have so many great family days out in Edinburgh, but the National Museum of Scotland has to be one of the best. It has some many great areas for kids of all ages – and entrance is free!
Whilst, some of us can still remember the great gallery being filled with pools of fish (I do kind of miss them) – the National Museum of Scotland’s evolution over the last few years has been amazing. Last month, we finally saw the final stages of the renovation work being complete. So we thought it was time to bring your our guide to find the best areas to explore with your kids.
National Museum of Scotland – Rooftop Garden
The trick to finding the rooftop garden is to firstly head to the Kingdom of Scots area on Level One. Take some time to play with the trebuchet and then follow the signs to the ‘terrace lift.’ It’s pretty slow as lifts go but it’ll take you right up to Roof Terrace.
From the National Museum of Scotland roof terrace, you really feel like you can see the whole of Edinburgh. You stand amongst the spires and can really appreciate the history of the city.
It’s one of my favourite places to spend time and the first place that I take visitors to Edinburgh. The kids love to play with the binoculars and try to recognise famous buildings from a different perspective.
Explore and Imagine at The National Museum of Scotland
The most obvious areas for kids – and easy to find – are probably the Explore and Imagine areas.
The Imagine gallery has a huge amount for younger kids. My younger two really like light table – nestled in the back of the room – that projects shadows on to the wall. But Thomas is also a big fan of the building blocks and runs between those and the huge Chinese Dragon on the wall.
The Explore Gallery is probably suited to slightly older kids. Although the Hot Air Balloons and Magnetic trains have always been a big hit. The racing car has a huge allure and reaching the correct height for the peddles is definitely an Edinburgh-esque sign of coming of age!
National Museum of Scotland – Grand Gallery
Without a doubt, no matter what your age the Grand Gallery is a sight to behold. It’s from here that you’ll find stairs to take you to various fantastic areas – and there’s a few that are firm family favourites.
The most obvious of these is Animal World. The sheer scale of the animals is just overwhelming. Not to forget the attraction of the light wall in the Earth in Space exhibit at the end of the hall.
But Katie’s favourite spot is actually the Fashion and Style exhibit. Whilst some may be derisive of interactive exhibits on screens, she absolute adores being able to create outfits that come to life.
Up from Animal World there’s also a great area for children called Adventure Planet. For those with buggies – or if you’d rather avoid the stairs – there’s a speedy lift just tucked round the back by the Space exhibit. Adventure Planet has an array of dressing up, a dinosaur dig, interactive exhibits to learn more about insects – and a giant tree that kids (and adults) can run through. It’s pretty awesome.
National Museum of Scotland – the ‘Scotland’ wing
Two further family-friendly areas can be found back in the Scotland wing but can be entered via the balconies in the Grand Galleries on the same floor as Adventure Planet.
The water turbine in the Energise Gallery is worth a visit on route – but the kids really do love exploring the Industry and Empire galleries. Whilst it’s not got the array of interactive exhibits as the Explore or Imagine areas – I would say it’s more interesting for adults.
The new Ancient Egypt exhibit can also be found on this level and whilst it’s not marked as ‘family’ the kids really did just find this fascinating. I think it’s just so unlike anything that they have seen before that it can’t failed to ignite a child’s imagine.
I don’t feel like we’ll ever tire of the National Museum of Scotland and for our family – it really has everything we could ask for. Pick up a map and hopefully follow this guide for a great day out!