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Some of the Lewis Chessmen, which are made from walrus ivory and whales' teeth and were discovered in 1831 on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, are pictured on display at the National Museum of Scotland
Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett
On virtual display
OPEN TO ALL

The National Museum of Scotland is putting its entire collection online

By Aamna Mohdin

People across the world can now view all the National Museum of Scotland has to offer without even leaving their sofas.

Using Google Arts and Culture’s museum view experience, which is similar to how Google’s Street View works, tourists can view the 20,000 objects on display at the National Museum. The virtual display also includes 1,000 pictures of objects from the Edinburgh museum’s collection.

It’s the first museum in Scotland that can be toured online, but not the first in the world. The Taj Mahal in India and the Palace of Versailles in France have also opened up their exhibit in a similar way, giving visitors from around the world a novel opportunity to explore their interior. Google Arts and Culture hopes to continue working with institutions to make cultural and historical materials across the globe more easily accessible.

Making tours of cultural institutions available online means more people will exposed to exhibitions that are difficult to either get to or are sold out very quickly. For example, last month, Google announced that the British Library’s most popular exhibition— Harry Potter: A History of Magic—will be going online after the exhibit, which includes objects from JK Rowling’s personal archive, sold every available ticket. The virtual exhibit will be available for free, worldwide, and in six languages.

The National Museum of Scotland is already doing well with visitors in the physical world. The museum remains the most popular attraction in Scotland, attracting more than two million visits last year.