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United Kingdom > Culture and festivals > Museums in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland

Free museums in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.


Offering 22 themed art galleries displaying more than 8,000 objects, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow),features collections spanning natural history to arms and armor, and presents art from a range of art movements and periods of history. Its displays have been designed with children in mind and include plenty of interaction that will appeal to all ages.  

The Riverside Museum: Glasgow’s much-loved Museum of Transport relocated to this spectacular waterfront landmark in 2011 and sits by a Tall Ship, berthed alongside the museum to create a fantastic experience in a stunning setting. The building itself is a work of art; the museum was designed by architect Zaha Hadid, who also designed the Aquatic Centre at the Olympic Park.  

The National Museum of Scotland, located in Edinburgh, is packed with a diverse collection that tells the history of Scotland and other parts of the world, via the themes of nature, art, design and fashion and science and technology. There are a number of National Museums across Scotland including the National War Museum (exploring Scotland’s military past at Edinburgh Castle in the capital; entry is included with admission to the Castle) and the National Museum of Rural Life.  

The National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, host a collection of Scottish and international art housed in three sites across Edinburgh; the Scottish National Gallery, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. There are 27 exhibitions to visit, 55 events to attend and 3,239 artworks online to explore.

NEW in 2016: New galleries at The National Museums of Scotland. Ten new galleries showcasing the very best of National Museums Scotland’s internationally important collections opened in 2016. From Alexander Graham Bell to Zandra Rhodes, they cover decorative art, design, fashion, science and technology. The new spaces showcase more than 3,500 objects - three-quarters of them have not been on permanent display for generations.

COMING in 2018: new V&A Dundee. Dundee in Scotland will be getting a new outpost of the world-famous V&A museum in early 2018. Unlike the original, the new one will be uber-modern in design and have the only purpose-built galleries in Scotland large enough to show these world-class touring exhibitions from the V&A shows in their entirety. Web:


The National Museum Wales, Cardiff, is home to the largest collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings outside Paris and includes Renoir's Blue Lady and La Parisienne, Rodin's The Kiss and Monet's Water Lilies. The museum also has features large-scale displays of natural history, science and archaeology. 

National Museum Wales also includes the National Roman Legion Museum in Caerleon, south Wales, National Wool Museum in Llandysul, west Wales and the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea, south Wales. 

The St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff, is one of Europe's biggest open-air museums. Among the 40 re-erected historical buildings you can see craftsman demonstrating traditional skills, farming of native breeds of livestock and celebrations of Welsh music and dance.  

Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenavon (south Wales), is more than just a museum; it is a real coal mine run by real miners. A 45-minute drive north of Cardiff, visitors can venture 300 feet underground and see what life was like down the pits as well as enjoying a multi-media tour of a modern coal mine with a virtual miner in the Mining Galleries and exhibitions in the Pithead Baths and historic colliery buildings.  


A thriving multi-arts center in Belfast’s bustling Cathedral Quarter, MAC selects, creates and mixes up music, theatre, dance and art’, with local and international names featuring on its programme of contemporary events. The venue hosts a rich variety of exhibitions and experimental works and is located in a trendy square with lots of restaurants and cafés.  

The recently restored, award-winning Ulster Museum, Belfast, is a gem in Northern Ireland’s cultural experiences. Home to a rich collection of art, history and natural sciences in Belfast city center, visitors can come face-to-face with dinosaurs, meet an Egyptian mummy, see modern masterpieces and ancient relics and enjoy interactive displays.

Adapted from VisitBritain 2016.



edinburgh: national museum of scotland
edinburgh: national galleries of scotland
glasgow museums: kelvingrove art gallery & museum, riverside museum, and more.
glasgow: the hunterian museum and art gallery
scotland: national museums of scotland, incl. national war museum, national museum of costume, national museum of rural life, and national museum of flight.
museum in wales: national museum wales (cardiff and other places), st fagans national history museum (cardiff), and big pit national coal museum (blaenavon).
belfast: metropolitan arts centre (mac)
belfast: ulster museum

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Free museums in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Travel guide to the United Kingdom.