COLLECTION TOURS

Collection Tours will be held on Friday, 12 June 2020 at the National Museum Scotland and The Royal Botanic Gardens and all delegates are welcome to book a place through our main registration page.

The tours vary in starting times and length, please expand the below sections for further details.

National Museums Scotland Library

Venue: National Museums Scotland, Chambers Street EH1 1JF
Tour length: 45-60 minutes
Max number: 12
Times: 13:00, 14:00 & 15:00

Visit the National Museums research library to see some of the rare natural history books in the collection (specific items available on request, see below).

National Museums Scotland library collection began in 1781 and has benefited greatly from major bequests of notable libraries by the Scottish naturalist J. A. Harvie-Brown and A. E. Salisbury (Mollusca).  The manuscript collections include the correspondence, field notes and journals of natural historians including J. A. Harvie-Brown; the naturalist and ornithologist William Jardine; and the polar explorer, oceanographer and naturalist William Speirs Bruce.  The library collection contains material to support historical research in geology and the natural sciences, taxonomic works in the major research areas of the zoological collections, and  a great many early volumes of significant works of zoological illustration from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The library catalogue can be found at http://libcat.nms.ac.uk.  If you wish to see any item from the collection please contact library@nms.ac.uk in advance and we will have it ready for you to consult.

National Museums Scotland Conservation Labs

Venue: National Museums Collections Centre, 242 West Granton road EH5 1JA
Tour length: 45-60 minutes
Max number: 12
Times: 14:00, 15:00 & 16:00

The National Museums Collection Centre has facilities for collection research and access as well as conservation and scientific laboratories. Analytical equipment ranges from PDA-UPLC, XRF, SEM-EDX to XRD and FTIR. This tour focuses on our recently completed extension housing conservation and science laboratories. You will meet a range of specialists working in these laboratories including those from paper conservation, geological specimen preparation, collection science and natural sciences.

National Museums Scotland Invertebrate Biology Collections

Venue: National Museums Collections Centre, 242 West Granton road EH5 1JA
Tour length: 45-60 minutes
Max number: 12
Times: 14:00 and 15:00

The Invertebrate Collections can be broadly divided into Insects (Entomology) and Marine Invertebrates. In addition there are discrete collections of other terrestrial and freshwater invertebrates

The Marine Invertebrate collections (nearly 4 Million specimens) include several historically significant collections eg Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, and more recent scientifically important collections through collaboration with a variety of institutions with an emphasis on retaining samples from British waters. These are an invaluable resource for the research of British marine fauna, especially from the North Atlantic deep sea. You can find out more about the development of the marine invertebrate collections here.

The Invertebrate Section also includes an extensive Entomological collection containing a further two million specimens from all over the world with particular strengths in Lepidoptera, Odonata, Hymenoptera, small orders and certain Coleoptera and Diptera. Although worldwide in scope, the collection is particularly rich in Scottish material and the collection is frequently consulted for this reason. You can find out more about the development of the entomology collections here.

National Museums Scotland Vertebrate Biology Collections

Venue: National Museums Collections Centre, 242 West Granton road EH5 1JA
Tour length: 45-60 minutes
Max number: 12
Times: 14:00 and 15:00

We have around 50,000 mammals in our scientific collections. Most of these are skeletons, skins and specimens preserved in alcohol. In addition we have extensive collections of animal bone from archaeological sites and about 2,200 Quaternary fossil specimens.

Our marine mammal collection, with over 3,000 specimens, is one of the most important in the world. There are examples of large baleen and toothed whales, including many specimens collected by Robert Knox and Sir William Turner in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

There are approximately 100,000 bird items, comprising mainly skins and egg sets, and fewer skeletons and spirit specimens. Together they give a broad representation of species from around the world. We have about 36,000 clutches of birds’ eggs, which are mainly from the UK and the rest of the western Palaearctic.  These date from the 1790s to the present day.  Important collections include H.M.S. Blair, D. Brown & D. Humphrey, J.J. Dalgleish, L. Dufresne, H.W. Feilden & J.A. Harvie-Brown, G.H.M. Franklin, F. Grant, K.C. Jacob, O.A.J. Lee, J.H. McNeile, R. Nichols, J. Piers Dutton, D.A. Ratcliffe, Scottish National Antarctic Expedition and W. Serle.  The McNeile collection is exceptional for the quality of its associated archive as well as its wide geographical coverage of the western Palaearctic.

Reptiles, amphibians and fishes are mostly kept as spirit specimens in ethanol or formalin and our collections are dominated by two large historical acquisitions.  The Sir Andrew Smith collection dates from 1859 and comprises 1,700 lots from around the world, but it is particularly strong in specimens from South Africa. The Jeremy Anderson collection comprises about 1,200 lots of specimens collected in Baluchistan in the 1960s-70s.  Other important collections include Australian specimens from Sir Malcolm Donald McEacharn in 1925 and snakes from Thomas Traill in 1869.

National Museums Scotland Palaeobiology Collections

Venue: National Museums Collections Centre, 242 West Granton road EH5 1JA
Tour length: 45-60 minutes
Max number: 12
Times: 15:00 and 16:00

The Palaeobiology collections are housed in a modern purpose-built environmentally-controlled store, and comprise around 250,000 specimens, of which two per cent are important type or figured specimens. The collection covers all the major groups of fossil invertebrates, vertebrates, plants and trace fossils. Many of the specimens were collected from around the world from the early nineteenth century onwards, but particularly from important Scottish Palaeozoic localities. Many of the specimens are historically important and were collected by early pioneers of Scottish Palaeontology such as Hugh Miller and Charles Peach.  The collections continue to be studied by the Palaeobiology team and visiting researchers. Scotland’s Palaeozoic rocks represent important windows through which crucial stages in the early evolution of life on Earth can be viewed.  In particular, our collections are renowned worldwide for specimens of eurypterids and plants, and our fossil fish and early tetrapod collections are among the largest and most diverse in the world.

National Museums Scotland Earth Science Collections

Venue: National Museums Collections Centre, 242 West Granton road EH5 1JA
Tour length: 45-60 minutes
Max number: 12
Times: 15:00 and 16:00

The Earth Systems collection of around 70,000 specimens represents Scotland’s geological history and global mineralogical diversity. Our collection of minerals, meteorites and rocks includes everything from 4.65 Byr old meteorites through to anthropogenic minerals. We have nearly 2,000 mineral species as per the International Mineralogical Association classification.

Notable collections include; minerals from important historical mining regions in or near Scotland, an internationally renowned agate collection, the Heddle Collection of Scottish minerals, many unusual igneous rocks from inaccessible regions, and a small but diverse meteorite collection (including three of the four known Scottish meteorites).

Altogether we have approximately 70% of all known mineral species from Scotland including good representation from the Leadhills/Wanlockhead, Strontian, Alva and Talcoty mines, to name a few. Our igneous suites include a good coverage of St Kilda island rocks and Gardar Suite rocks from Greenland. Important historical specimens include eastern Africa ores collected by David Livingstone, the first Beagle expedition, and the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition.

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Herbarium Collections

Venue: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 20A Inverleith Row EH3 5LR
Tour length: 40 minutes
Max number: 15
Times: 14:00 and 15:00

The Herbarium at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh holds around 3 million specimens of plants and fungi from across the world and covers a time-span of over 300 years. The oldest specimen dates from 1697 and we increase the collection by up to 30,000 specimens each year. The more recent specimens reflect the taxonomic and geographic focus of researchers and collectors at the RBGE over the past hundred years. The sheet-mounted herbarium is complemented by a spirit collection of over 7,000 specimens stored in jars of alcohol, and a carpological collection of fruits and seeds.

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Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Library Collection

Venue: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 20A Inverleith Row EH3 5LR
Tour length: 40 minutes
Max number: 15
Times: 14:45 and 15:45

The RBGE Library houses Scotland’s national collection of botanical and horticultural literature with more than 60,000 books, the earliest of which date back to the 15th century as well as journals, original artworks, maps, nursery catalogues and other related materials. The RBGE Archives house documents, photographs and objects that tell the story of the 350 years of RBGE’s history. This tour will provide you with the opportunity to visit the Library and to see some of the treasures from this unique collection.

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Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Living Collection - General Garden Tour

Venue: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 20A Inverleith Row EH3 5LR
Tour length: 60 minutes
Max number: 15
Times: 14:00, 15:15 and 15:30

RBGE is home to one of the world’s richest collections of living plants and more than 13,500 species built up over centuries of global exploration.  Discover the fascinating stories behind the Botanics and its three Regional Gardens.

Our team of passionate and knowledgeable Garden Guides will help you discover more about the intrepid plant hunters of old, and modern day adventurers, who have helped to create each Garden’s unique landscape, forming part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s world-famous Living Collection.

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Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Living Collection - Walking Back in Time Rock Garden and Woodland Garden Tour

Venue: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 20A Inverleith Row EH3 5LR
Tour length: 60 minutes
Max number: 15
Times: 14:00

RBGE is home to one of the world’s richest collections of living plants and more than 13,500 species built up over centuries of global exploration.  Discover the fascinating stories behind the Botanics and its three Regional Gardens.

This tour will show you round the world famous Rock Garden and will inform you of the history and building of this feature and show some of the original plants dating back to the early 1900, from there the tour will lead into the woodland garden and we will explain our new area planted up 5 years ago about the history of woodland gardening.

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Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Living Collection - Behind the Wall

Venue: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 20A Inverleith Row EH3 5LR
Tour length: 60 minutes
Max number: 15
Times: 14:00

This tour will show how we display our alpine collection in the  newly refurbished traditional alpine house to the more modern tufa house and explain why we grow them in this format. Then we will go behind the scenes and show the backup alpine area and look at the vast range of plants we grow from tiny cushions to dwarf trees and look at the large bulbous collection we manage here.

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Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Living Collection - The Tropics under Glass

Venue: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 20A Inverleith Row EH3 5LR
Tour length: 60 minutes
Max number: 15
Times: 15:15

RBGE is arguably the best place in Scotland to find exotic and unusual tropical plants. On this walking tour you will see tropical plants from around the globe, experience a diversity of habitats, and understand the tasks involved in growing some of the world’s most iconic plants under glass in Scotland.

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Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Living Collection - Glasshouses: Behind the Scenes

Venue: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 20A Inverleith Row EH3 5LR
Tour length: 60 minutes
Max number: 15
Times: 15:15

This walking tour takes you behind the scenes to RBGE’s research glasshouses to see the many ways a living plant collection can be used. Here you will see the diversity of plants grown for the public display glasshouses. There are wild-collected species and hybrids used for cutting-edge scientific research, collections for ex-situ conservation, and key plants grown for a huge range of educational activities.

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Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Herbarium Collections - The Magic of Living Collections (Ethnobotany)

Venue: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 20A Inverleith Row EH3 5LR
Tour length: 60 minutes
Max number: 15
Times: 15:15

Explore the ethnobotany of RBGE’s native plant collections. Uncover Scotland’s small but incredibly versatile native flora – from magic to medicine, and how our collections offer enormous potential for the future. Something for everyone – from fans of Outlander to Harry Potter.

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