The People's Story Museum

The People’s Story explores the lives of Edinburgh’s ordinary people at work and play from the late 18th century to today. Visitors can see displays showing a bookbinder’s workshop, a wartime kitchen and much more, all packed with real objects. You can even see a former jail, an original part of this historic building.

The People’s Story is housed in the Canongate Tollbooth, a Royal Mile landmark built in 1591 and used in the past to conduct burgh affairs, collect taxes and as a jail. Visitors can imagine the ghostly rattle of the jailor’s keys as they peer into an original cell.

If you want to experience a real slice of Edinburgh life in the past, from workdays to washdays, high days to holidays, The People’s Story is the museum to visit.

Images of the Canongate Tollbooth and other tollbooths can be found on Capital Collections.

Change of opening hours

From 1 October 2016 the People's Story Museum will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays but will be open on Sundays from 12pm - 5pm. Opening hours on other days will remain unchanged. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.


The People's Story's street sign on the Canongate


Find out more about The People's Story and what you will see when you visit.

A banner of the Leith Painters Association


Find out more about The People's Story collections, which are full of the colour and drama of everyday life.

Visitors examining a display in the People's Story Museum

Visitor Information

Check our opening hours and how to find us.

A family look at the ground floor displays at The People's Story


There is no temporary exhibition space in the Museum, but find out about the People's Story exhibitions shown in other venues.

A visitor examining items for sale in an Edinburgh Museums and Galleries shop


Find out about the Museum of Edinburgh Shop, which sells People's Story-related items, and is just across the road.

Did you know?

Did you Know?

about the great escape from this building?

Did you Know?

about the great escape from this building?

This building was once a prison and courthouse. Donald McCulloch was imprisoned here in 1795 for deserting from the army but he managed to escape. A reward of one guinea was offered for information about him, but we don’t know if he was recaptured.