Publisher of the Month: National Museums of Scotland

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NMS Enterprises Limited – Publishing is the publishing division of the National Museums of Scotland (NMS). NMS comprises the Royal Museum and the Museum of Scotland (in Chambers Street); the National War Museum of Scotland (at Edinburgh Castle); the Museum of flight (East Fortune); Shambellie House Museum of costume (Dumfriesshire); and the Museum of Scottish Country Life (near East Kilbride).

The publishing division began in 1985. It has been known by its current name since 2002. The staff, three full-time and one part-time, are to be found in the former Dental Hospital in Chambers Street, across the road from the Museum of Scotland. We answer the bell occasionally to people clutching their jaws to whom we have to gently break the news that the Dental Hospital moved to Chalmers Street four years ago...

Some of our titles have been in print for many years, for example: The Scenery of Scotland, an introduction to the Scottish landscape by W J Baird with stunning aerial photographs by Pat Macdonald, has been selling continuously since 1988; we have just brought out the third edition of Tartan, first published in 1991, written by Hugh Cheape, the Head of the Scottish Material Culture Research Centre at NMS.

Over the years we have produced lavishly illustrated catalogues for Royal Museum exhibitions such as Quianlong: Treasures from the Forbidden City; Treasures from Tuscany; Nicholas and Alexandra: The Last Tsar and Tsarina; and, this year, Beyond the Palace Walls: Islamic Art from The State Hermitage Museum.

Aside from exhibition catalogues, we have a wide variety of titles which provide their own challenges in editing, designing, producing and marketing, whether it's John Logie Baird: A Life; The Concorde Experience; Minerals of Scotland; Audubon in Edinburgh; William Speirs Bruce: Polar Explorer and Scottish Nationalist; John Napier: Logarithm John; Romanesque and Gothic Decorative Metalwork and Ivory in the Museum of Scotland; Weights and Measures in Scotland (winner of the 2005 Saltire Society/National Library of Scotland Research Book of the Year Award); or the Scotties activity series for young readers. We get closely involved in all the different subjects and end up knowing a little about them all – just enough to dazzle our friends and relatives with 'Did you know...?'

Most of our books come through NMS curators or are commissioned, but Lesley Taylor, Director of Publishing, is open to ideas of scholarly or popular Scottish interest. Subject areas include history and culture, archaeology, geology, natural history and art. Email her in the first instance please with your proposal:

Books featured in this article

  • Cover scan of Audubon In Edinburgh
    Audubon In Edinburgh - John Chalmers - Paperback
    John James Audubon, the French American ornithologist, is renowned for his superlative bird paintings. This work concentrates on the time Audubon spent in Edinburgh where his paintings were first engraved and he realised the ambition of their publication.
  • Cover scan of The Concorde Experience
    The Concorde Experience - Hardback
    This is the story of the world's favourite supersonic plane, and more particularly the dramatic life and retirement of 'Alpha Alpha', now part of the collection of the National Museums of Scotland.
  • Cover scan of Minerals Of Scotland
    Minerals Of Scotland: Past And Present - Alec Livingstone - Paperback
    This is a comprehensive and definitive account of Scotland's minerals and the men who discovered, collected and examined them. This study includes sections on the collectors themselves as well as a brief account of Scotland's geological evolution.
  • Cover scan of Tartan
    Tartan: The Highland Habit - Hugh Cheape - Paperback
    Hugh Cheape, curator of modern Scottish history at the National Museums of Scotland, takes the story of tartan from the medieval love of display to the Victorian invention of exclusive clan identity.
  • Cover scan of Weights And Measures In Scotland
    Weights And Measures In Scotland: A European Perspective - R. D. Connor; A. D. C. Simpson - Hardback
    Winner of the 2005 Saltire Society/National Library of Scotland Research Book of the Year Award. After looking at contemporary legislation and examining the physical evidence of surviving artefacts, the authors have come to some surprising conclusions.

August 2006

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