Collections

The People’s Story collection tells us about the working and social lives of ordinary Edinburgh people from the late 18th century to the present. It includes everyday objects, treasures from important events, photographs and oral history collections.

Our collection of banners is of national and international significance. There are banners in support of political reform, trades unions and the anti-apartheid movement. Many of the banners are beautifully made.

The museum holds an impressive collection of objects relating to the trade incorporations and friendly societies of Edinburgh. Admire elegant horn and silver snuff mulls, ceremonial regalia and costumes.

Find out about important Edinburgh trades, such as printing, brewing and biscuit making, and see collections of tools and finished products, including colourful seed packet designs by the printing firm Smith and Ritchie. We have collections of objects from different religious faiths, and ethnic and social groups, including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities.

Votes for Women sash
Detail of National Union of Railwaymen banner, 1920
A banner of the Leith Painters Association, painted by R.Lonie 1877.

Edinburgh Life

These collections show the people of Edinburgh coming together to campaign, protest, celebrate and change their city.

  • Strength in Numbers
  • Pride and Protest
  • The Demon Drink
  • Rainbow City
  • For King and Country
  • Turbulent times: Politics and Religion
     

Working Life In Edinburgh

The making of beer, biscuits and books is only part of the story of working life in Edinburgh.

  • The City of Print
  • Power to the People
  • Spit and Polish

Leith Collections

Collections relating to the once busy seaport of Leith.

  • The Burgh of Leith
  • From Sea to Shore
Newhaven fishing boat
Domestic objects at the Museum Collections Centre

Newhaven Collections

This collection tells of the working and social life of the close-knit former fishing community of Newhaven.

  • Fishing
  • Fishwives
  • Fishwife Choirs

At Home in Edinburgh

Our ‘at home’ collections contain objects that you, your parents, grandparents and older generations may have used in the home.