Museum of Scotland

Benson + Forsyth, Edinburgh, 1998


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View of corner tower from George IV Bridge 

Keith Hunter     Download Original

  • View of corner tower from George IV Bridge    
  • Chambers Street elevation showing the relationship with the existing museum    
  • Gallery 22 – administration and conservation offices.    
  • Gallery 22 – top floor. Two floors were added to the existing building    
  • Gallery 22 – west elevation. The curved wall incorporates the stairwell    
  • The main means of orientation is the triangular court    
  • A building of dramatic spaces and unexpected views    
  • The vast Newcomen engine on the first floor which is dedicated to objects from the Scottish Enlightenment.  The curved roof reflects light into the gallery all year round, while preventing the damage that direct daylight could do to exhibits    
  • Niche wall display case    
  • Edinburgh Castle seen from the roof terrace    
  • Display cases    
  • Fair-faced concrete spiral stair, exposed spine and treads held away from the wall to allow light to filter down    
  • Entrance to Gallery 22 with bridge across double-height space    
  • Site plan    
  • Site plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • First floor plan    
  • Second floor plan    
  • Section A-A    
  • Section    
  • Isometric    
  • Model of west elevation    
  • Model of north elevation    
  • South elevation and lift tower    
  • Looking up at the ground-floor table slab from the basement triangular court.    
  • Outer wall in Clashach sandstone, inner core wall in white sand-cement render; roof    
  • Rooflights above the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Church of Scotland galleries are angled to catch the sun throughout the day    
  • Sketch/logo    
  • Detail section through niche wall display case    
  • Display case detail    

Five-storey competition winning museum with gallery space for Scottish artifacts and artwork of historic importance. Constructed with an in-situ concrete frame clad with Clashach sandstone

Situated close to the spine of the old town, the museum uses the objects in its collection to tell the story of Scotland from geological beginnings to the present, arranged chronologically from basement to roof. The integration of object, display and architectural promenade and space is central to the design of the building.

The double-walled cylindrical entrance tower draws on the imagery of the prehistoric north British brochs. The facades to Chambers Street and George IV Bridge are clad in an expressed veneer of Clashach sandstone. Walls are punched and pulled with slots, colonnades and cantilevered windows.

Internally, a long, dark entrance hall leads to the triangular top-lit central court, with views upwards to tiers of galleries. Arranged around the central court, a series of rooms are separated by thick walls and criss-crossed by many slots and alignments of view.

As well as creating deep thresholds and controlled glimpses, the massive walls are designed to contain all the service runs. At first floor level a second great hall connects through to dozens of openings to small galleries all around. A convex roof with clerestorey windows holds the roof garden above.


  • Begun: Jan 1996
  • Completed: Dec 1998
  • Floor area: 12,800m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £44.9M
  • Tender date: Jun 1995
  • Procurement: Scottish Management Contract (March 1988) based on JCT management contract 1987
  • Address: Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF, United Kingdom

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