10 Scottish museums and galleries that will improve your wellbeing

Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum <i>(Image: Stripe Photos)</i>
Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum (Image: Stripe Photos)

It's time to explore, imagine, play and create! Scotland’s museums and galleries have something for everyone - whether setting out on a new adventure in life or simply connecting with your local community at fun, friendly, and affordable spaces.

There are 450 museums and galleries across Scotland, all offering different experiences, including some you might not expect!

Museums and galleries are places to enjoy, either on our own or with others – to relax, feel inspired, be creative and have fun. They make us happier, healthier, and smarter and have a positive place in peoples’ lives.


Research has shown that visiting and also volunteering in museums and galleries can have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing.

So if you are thinking of visiting a museum or gallery, but not sure what to expect, simply check out the museums below to get some #MuseumsAreGo inspiration.


National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh


Inspired by mind.org.uk's five ways to wellbeing, National Museums Scotland has compiled a list of ways that everyone can boost their mood using National Museums Scotland and its collections.

From exploring its many exhibitions and events, you can also get involved in drawing and even online family yoga.

There are monthly ‘Relaxed Mornings’ for anyone who would appreciate a calmer visit to the museum, where you can explore some areas of the museums without noisy interactives and videos to give a more relaxed environment.

There are also the ‘Museum Socials’ events which are created for anyone affected by dementia, and their relatives, friends, and supporters.

These are relaxed and informal, starting with tea and cake, and feature a range of activities inspired by the museum’s collections with a new theme each month.



Burrell Collection, Glasgow


The Burrell Collection has an exciting new programme of weekly and monthly events, giving you the chance to utilise the collection to its full potential.

From storytelling to wellbeing, they have something to suit everyone. Why not try out a Tai Chi class on a Wednesday morning, or drop in for an informal sketch session, or listen to some traditional folk music on a Sunday afternoon?

All events are free to attend unless otherwise stated.



North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre, Motherwell


Above, North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre

If you are local to the area and want to make some new friends and knit, sew, crochet or craft with some company, stop by North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre on Wednesday afternoons from 1.30pm-3pm for their weekly Knit & Stitch Group.

This four-star attraction also offers visitors a range of facilities and services for an educational and fun visit for all ages including an outdoor play area, a viewing tower which you can climb for the best view, as well as regular exhibitions and displays.



The Devil’s Porridge Museum, Dumfries & Galloway


Devils Porridge Gardening Club. Photograph: Devils Porridge Museum


This 5-star, award-winning museum puts children, young people, and families at the heart of everything they do as part of the local community.

They run a variety of activities for all ages and interests, including a free gardening club every Saturday for children and teenagers up to 16 years old, where they can help to grow fresh produce for the museum’s Dig for Victory Garden, and have fun learning new skills.

There is also a fortnightly lunchtime club for retired people to enjoy bingo or tombola and other themed activities.

The Devil’s Porridge Museum also tells the story of HM Factory Gretna, the greatest munitions factory on earth in World War One, where the devil’s porridge (or cordite, an explosive) was mixed. Their contribution to the war effort helped women to achieve the vote!



HMS Unicorn, Dundee


HMS Unicorn - Brew and Blether. Photograph: The Unicorn Preservation Society

Monthly ‘Brew and Blether sessions’ at HMS Unicorn invite locals to have a brew, biscuits and a blether about the past.

It’s an opportunity to meet new people, look at photos from the collections and chat about Dundee and the changes over the years.

The museum is also looking for locals to add their memories of HMS Unicorn and Dundee to their special memory map.



Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum, Dunfermline, Fife


Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum. Photograph: Stripe Photos


Museums can be quiet and contemplative spaces. They can also be filled with people and curious minds. On the last Saturday of every month, 10am to 1pm, you can book a FREE place to play Chess with other budding chess players, or all ages and abilities. Each meeting has the option to join a mini competition for a £2 entry fee with a prize donated by the Museum.



Wardlaw Museum, St Andrews, Fife


Wardlaw Museum. Photograph: University of St Andrews

Drop into the Wardlaw Museum to relax and draw. Find a place in the galleries and take inspiration from great artworks, or an ancient artefact.

It’s very easy-going and all ages and talents are welcome. Materials are provided.

There are also quiet openings available for visitors who would prefer a hustle and bustle free visit to the museum.



Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museum


Aberdeen Art Gallery - Guthries Goslings. Photograph: Aberdeen City Council


Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museum plays host to a variety of events and workshops for locals and visitors alike.

These include, ‘Music for a Summer’s Night’ with the Scottish Ensemble on 21st June, and ‘Inspired Gallery Meets’ which are perfect for those wanting to try their hand at something new, or looking to find inspiration for their own projects, whilst socialising with like-minded people.

Or you can simply enjoy wandering around one of the many exhibitions, including ‘Making a Splash! A Century of Women’s Beachwear’ which showcases bathing costumes and other highlights from the Archives, Gallery & Museums’ collection of 20th-century beachwear.



Gairloch Museum, Ross-shire, Highlands

Based in a converted nuclear bunker, Gairloch Museum offers regular events for locals and visitors to the area.

The previously held ‘Warm Wednesdays’ over the winter months, to counter the cost-of-living crisis, has now become ‘Whatever the weather Wednesday’, offering free weekly craft and reminiscence sessions that are dementia-and-additional-needs friendly.

There is also a local lifts scheme to make it easier for people to attend.

Other regular events, helping to bring people together, include ‘Ceilidh House Get Togethers’, ‘Museum Book Group’, ‘Creative Writing sessions’, and special film screenings.

There are also ‘Weave the view’ and ‘Weave the water’ workshops, and a 5-day ‘Design and weave’ masterclass with Joan Baxter in July.



Timespan, Helmsdale, Sutherland


Timespan, Peoples Mobile Archive. Photograph: The Peoples Mobile Archive


The People’s Mobile Archive (PMA) is a community well-being heritage initiative, co-produced and led by local volunteers. Informed by community consultations, the PMA addresses the social necessities of the elderly and most vulnerable community members facing the daily struggles of living in rural and remote locations in Sutherland.

Visitors can also enjoy contemporary art and museum exhibitions and displays, telling the local and social history of their parish and people.