As Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh is chock full of national museums and educational institutions. The National Museum of Scotland on Chambers St is the main attraction, with collections running through the development of man, the natural world and Scotland’s history. It also hosts regular large-scale exhibitions on subjects as diverse as the ancient Egyptians or video games, and throw open their doors every month or so for popular Museum Lates of live music and booze.
Down by the Scottish Parliament, Dynamic Earth looks like a mini Millennium Dome, and tells the story of the natural world in multimedia form, including a real life iceberg. The parliament itself hosts regular exhibits, while the Palace of Holyroodhouse opposite displays a rolling programme of treasures from the Queen’s personal horde.
On the Royal Mile, the Museum of Childhood reveals the history of children’s toys. Beside Edinburgh Castle (a deeply disappointing and expensive museum) is Camera Obscura, home to mind-bending visual trickery and a galaxy of shiny lights.
The Museum on the Mound is entirely devoted to the study of money, tacked onto the back of the Bank of Scotland HQ. It is exactly as crass as that sounds. You can see a million pounds in physical form here, a square pallet of banknotes in a hermetically sealed perspex box.
To the North of the city, the Royal Botanic Gardens are a beautiful cultivated natural space of public interest and study. The glasshouses are filled with weird and wonderful plants, and feeding the squirrels on a Sunday is an Edinburgh institution. In the centre of the gardens lies Inverleith House, a contemporary art gallery.
The city is home to a range of educational institutions, including the University of Edinburgh, Napier University, Heriot Watt University and Queen Margaret University. Edinburgh College is a vast institution that brings together a range of different colleges. Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) is the city’s art school, home to the first casts of the Parthenon Frieze and a large range of creative degree courses.