We want everyone who comes to our museums to enjoy their time with us and make the most of their visit. Here's what we do to assist visitors with additional support needs.

Museum Socials

Museum Socials are free sessions for anyone living with dementia, their relatives, friends and supporters – you can find out more about our current programme here.

Our Socials have been running since October 2015 and are a partnership with the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Library of Scotland.

You can read more about Museum Socials in this blog post.

Museum Socials on film

At the end of 2016 we were approached by Edinburgh Napier University School of Arts & Creative Industries to ask if we could offer their students the chance to develop some practical experience in the field by taking part in work-based learning modules at National Museums Scotland. We asked staff if they would like to submit a project brief aimed at 4th year students studying television, film and community media, where they could complete a short film or animation for us based on any theme or aspect of our work.

Christine McLean, Community Engagement Manager in Learning & Programmes, submitted a project proposal relating to the Museum Socials she manages as part of Community Engagement services. The brief was a good match for Laura Briggs, a 4th year student studying for a BA in Television. This is the film she made.

Finalists in Scotland’s Dementia Awards 2017

Our Socials programme was short-listed, together with the National Galleries of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, for Best Dementia Friendly Community Initiative.

We were nominated by Julie Baikie whose mum, Rae, has been coming to the Socials every week for the last year. 

Julie wrote:

“It’s the highlight of her week…. the variety of Friday activities are right up her street. It’s a fabulous program doing really important work and definitely contributing greatly to my Mum’s mental health and wellbeing.”

Scotland's Dementia Awards Finalist

Resources for autistic children and young people

National Museums Scotland is committed to encouraging children and young people on the autism spectrum to visit and enjoy our museums. You can find out more about activities, events and support for autistic children and young people and their families here.

Audio described tours for blind and visually impaired visitors

Free, audio described guided tours are also available by request and subject to availability. This is an audio description of our Discover the National Museum Tour and it is delivered by our Learning staff or Volunteer Guides. To find out more and book, please call  0131 247 4041 or email tours@nms.ac.uk.

Check our Exhibitions and Events calendar for audio described tours of special exhibitions.

BSL Interpreted Tours

Free British Sign Language interpreted tours are available by request. To arrange please email tours@nms.ac.uk or call 0131 247 4041, giving at least three weeks’ notice.

Check our Exhibitions and Events calendar for ticketed BSL tours and events.

Hearing Helpers

All of our tours offer the use of the Hearing Helper Tour Guide system. These help visitors with hearing difficulties overcome background noise and distance from the guide. They can be used with hearing aids. This can be asked for on the day but if you have any queries, please email tours@nms.ac.uk or call 0131 247 4041.


Due to essential lift maintenance work in autumn 2019, most of our tours currently involve climbing stairs.  If you require a step-free tour, please speak to the Volunteer Guide on arrival or call 0300 123 6789.

There is level access to the Museum via the main doors to the Entrance Hall on Chambers Street and the Tower entrance at the corner of Chambers Street and George IV Bridge. Lifts are available to all floors and accessible toilets are available on most floors, as well as a Changing Places (U) toilet in the Entrance Hall on Level 0. Guide dogs, hearing dogs and other recognised assistance dogs are admitted. You can find more access information here.

Header image: Museum socials © Ruth Armstrong Photography.

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