During my last week of classes at the University of Edinburgh, my Modern Scottish History tutor (the equivalent of a teaching assistant at American colleges and universities) brought my tutorial class to the National Museum of Scotland. Although this museum is less than 5 minutes away from my accommodations of Kincaid’s Court and the admission is free, I had not yet been inside before my tutorial’s trip.
The National Museum of Scotland houses ‘Scottish antiquities, culture and history’ and is attached to the Royal Museum which has exhibits of science, technology, natural history and world cultures. (I still have not been inside the Royal Museum, but I would like to go during these last two weeks I have here in Edinburgh!) One of the famous exhibits in the National Museum of Scotland is the stuffed body of Dolly the sheep–the first mammal to be cloned by an adult cell. I did not see Dolly during my visit with my class, as we were visiting the Scottish history exhibits, but I’m going to go back to see Dolly soon!
My tutor encouraged my class to explore the “Scotland Transformed” and “Industry and Empire” exhibits during our visit. To name a few things I saw:
1. A tartain suit that was probably worn by the English Jacobite Sir John Hynde Cotton.
2. The Newcomen atmospheric engine that was invented by Thomas Newcomen in 1712. Thomas Newcomen was an Englishman from Dartmouth in Devon county in England, and his invention contributed to greater successes in the mining industry in Scotland. The engine used steam power to pump water out of coal mines and assisted human labor with mechanical power.
3. Several technological innovations (for spinning and weaving) that were used in the textile industry in Scotland.
After my tutor concluded our official tutorial session in the museum, I walked around the exhibits about Scottish leisure activities. I enjoyed learning more about the custom of tea drinking in Scotland and the development of tea rooms, particularly those in Glasgow that were designed by the accomplished architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the early twentieth century. I also learned about some of the traditional Scottish leisure activities, like the Highland games, curling, and horse racing.
I enjoyed my quick, easy, and free trip to the National Museum of Scotland, and I want to go see some of the other exhibits (including Dolly) before I head back to New Jersey!