Research is core to the activities of the National Museums Scotland, crucial to our stewardship of collections and to the intellectual development of subject knowledge. Research is fostered through curatorial work, enquiries, projects and grants undertaken with other institutions and universities worldwide. It is communicated to the wider public through temporary and permanent exhibitions, lectures, conferences, as well as workshops, and social media. Research is essential to the dynamic reappraisal of our collections and knowledge about art, society and the world around us. The research we do has national and international relevance. 

There are five curatorial departments and a Collections Services Department all of which are actively involved in research. The curatorial department span the humanities, arts and sciences they are: Scottish History and Archaeology; Art and Design; Science and Technology, Natural Sciences and World Cultures.  All these departments conduct research programmes across the broad range of collections disciplines, nationally and international. Other departments of National Museums Scotland undertake research in such areas as audience development and run programming linked to the research and development of the collections.

There is a key link between research and national and international partnership and skills training and these are expressed in research projects such as the Glenmorangie Research Project  and the Pacific Collections Review.

The research programme is guided by the Research Strategy Group, a senior management committee. It includes the Director, the Directors of Collections and Public Programmes, Trustee representatives with university experience and all heads of collections departments who drive research. Meeting regularly, it encourages research activity and gives it strategic focus.

research partnerships

Many members of curatorial staff hold honorary or adjunct positions in universities, participate in doctoral programmes or training and are involved in university teaching and examining.

The Museum takes part in research training through the national AHRC funded Collaborative Doctoral Program (CDP) and the NERC funded Doctoral Training Programme (DTP). NMS hosts a number of students.

The Museum works with a number of universities in Scotland, the UK and beyond. It has a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Edinburgh, and enjoys Independent Research Organisation status (AHRC, NERC) through which it secures grants.