5 Most Instagrammable Places in the National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland has been described as one of the most beautiful buildings in Edinburgh, so it makes sense that it attracts Instagrammers from all over the world.

As part of the Digital Media team, I’m lucky enough see their work as I hunt for photographs that we can feature on our account. I’m a big fan of this type of user-generated content, as it allows us and our international audience to see our four museums from a visitor’s point of view.

When gathering content, I look at our tagged posts (@nationalmuseumsscotland) and search through relevant locations (for example, “National Museum of Scotland”). Once I’ve found a unique, colourful and high-quality image, I ask for the photographer’s permission in the comments. If they’re happy for us to use the photo, I download it using DownloadGram and write a new caption which credits the photographer and tells our audience about the featured object or location. The photo and caption are then scheduled using Hootsuite.

If you’d like to know which spots in and around the museum come out on top, read on:

1. Exterior

Before stepping inside, it’s worth taking a moment to capture the exterior of the building, where the overall effect is as impressive as the details. The sculptures on the front façade, for example, represent Science, Natural History and Applied Art. You can also try to sneak a celebrity selfie, as the six heads above the doorways are of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, James Watt, Charles Darwin, Michelangelo and Sir Isaac Newton.

Location: Chambers Street, Edinburgh

2. Grand Gallery

This is easily the most photographed spot in the museum. This part of the building opened on 19 May 1866, as the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art. It features a glass roof that’s over 80 metres long and 24 metres high, in addition to Instagram-friendly features such as original radiators, floral and foliage motifs, rounded arches and curving staircases.

Location: Grand Gallery

3. Rooftop Terrace

The rooftop terrace isn’t as easy to find as the Grand Gallery, but the gorgeous view is worth the trek. In addition to a variety of plants along the edge of the terrace, you can spot landmarks such as Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh Castle and Greyfriars Kirkyard.

Location: Access via the Scottish galleries using the Terrace lift or staircase on Level 5 (Industry and Empire)


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Inspired by @berriestagram recent posts (I would say go check out her account because it’s pretty grest but I am fairly sure that 99% of you alresdy follow her) I decided to go see the heather in bloom, but as I am essentially managing and sometimes performing several Fringe shows every day this month (I miss sleep), I have had little time to head to the hills. So quizz time! If not the bonnie hills of Scotland where did I go to find heather fields with views to the Castle? Answers down below. . . . #scotspirit #lovegreatbritain #icu_scotland #bbcscotland #edinburghspotlight #igersedinburgh #thisisedinburgh #ukpotd #edinburghsnapshots #scotland #edinburgh #explore_britain #unlockscotland #bestscotlandpics #ig_scot #wonderlustscotland #unveilededinburgh

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4. Space Gallery

In addition to a revolutionary telescope and a 100-year-old planetarium, the Earth in Space gallery offers a number of great Instagram backdrops, including a light-up wall of stars and constellations. The most popular option, however, is the backlit wall in front of the Universe Odyssey film, which is perfect for creating an eye-catching silhouette.

Location: Natural World, Level 1 (Earth in Space)


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Stargaze. – 📷: @dewiretnowati21 #edinburgh

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5. Gallery 3 and 4

The decorative floor tiles are from the original tiled floor of the Grand Gallery, which opened in 1866. They were produced by a famous ceramic manufacturer and when some of the tiles needed replacing in the 1990s, they employed the same method that was used to make the originals. Take a moment to check out the special exhibitions before snapping an #IHaveThisThingWithFloors post.

Location: Grand Gallery (Gallery 3 and Gallery 4)

Bonus – Grand Gallery at Night

The museum’s adults-only Museum Lates and After Hours events have been running for a few years with themes ranging from Celts to Victorian photography. They’re usually packed with Instagrammable opportunities, including face-painting, photobooths and colourful lighting in the Grand Gallery. Fun fact: when this building opened 132 years ago, an innovative ventilation system in the roof incorporated gas lighting, which meant the museum could open to the public after dark. They were definitely onto something…

Location: Grand Gallery

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list. A quick scroll through the location tag reveals hundreds of Instagram-worthy opportunities. If you have any favourite photo spots in the museum that we’ve missed, let us know in the comments.



Information in this post has been gathered from the Architecture trail of the National Museum of Scotland and History of the National Museum of Scotland.

The National Museum of Scotland can be found on Chambers Street in Edinburgh. It is free to visit and open daily (aside from Christmas). Check the website for more details.

Photography is allowed – and encouraged – in most of the museum. However, there are some exceptions due to copyright restrictions. We recommend checking the signage before taking photos.

If you’re interested in commercial photography, please contact media@nms.ac.uk.

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