The Museum of Piping
See and Hear the Heritage of the Great Highland Bagpipe at the National Piping Centre.
The Museum of Piping at The National Piping Centre holds three hundred years of piping heritage. The themed display focuses on the Scottish tradition, with bagpipes thought to date back to the 18th century from Lochaweside in Argyll, as well as a set said to have been taken to Austria by an expatriate Highlander in the 18th century.
The pipes of John MacColl are an outstanding feature of the central display cases, as well as original manuscript, and many of his competition medals, including his Highland Society of London gold medal for piobaireachd. The family of the famous John Ban MacKenzie also feature, with various chanters and other artefacts associated with that piping dynasty.
Small pipes from the Northumbrian tradition are also on display, as are a set of reel pipes by the 19th century pipe maker William Gunn. The display also demonstrates pipe making, as well as the printing of bagpipe music.
Instruments from the European bagpipe tradition are also to be seen, with examples of Polish, Hungarian, Spanish and Italian bagpipes.
An insight into the competition tradition of the Highland bagpipe in the 20th century completes the collection, with the Silver Chanter, competed for by elite piobaireachd players every year on display. The medals of one of the outstanding players of the 20th century, Pipe Major Robert Reid, can also be seen.
Monday-Friday: 9am - 5pm
Saturday & Sunday: closed
Concessions (Senior Citizens, U16 and Students) £2.50
If you would like to tour the Museum of Piping as a journalist, or use it for filming, please see our Media Enquiries information.
Visiting the Museum - Know before you go
We have put in place some guidelines for visiting to make our museum COVID-safe.
- The maximum allowed into the museum at any one time will be 10 people from 3 households. You may be asked to wait, if this has been reached.
- There are 2m distance markers on the floor, please use them to guide you during your visit.
- Please use our hand sanitiser stations before you enter and upon leaving the building. We also have toilet facilities where you can wash your hands in accordance with COVID guidelines.
- Please wear your facemask at all times whilst inside The National Piping Centre, except when seated in our restaurant.
- Our audio guides cannot be used at this time
- The Museum is cleaned each morning, and our team will also clean key touch points through out the day.
If you want to bring a larger, organised group, we would be delighted to organise a bespoke event. Please see more information on our Try the Bagpipes page.
Noting the Tradition
The National Piping Centre received support from the Heritage Lottery Fund to undertake an oral history project called “Noting The Tradition”. This involved undertaking oral history interviews with people who have been involved in piping at all levels and all over Scotland in the past 50 years.
The National Piping Centre Principal, Roddy MacLeod, commented, “This is an exciting project which will add to the historical and heritage resources available to researchers and members of the public interested in the history of piping. It also offers the opportunity to become involved in the creation of an important and lasting resource telling the story of Scotland’s iconic instrument, the Great Highland Bagpipe. We hope that you will be inspired to join us in this vital heritage work.”
To hear the interviews that were conducted and find out more about the project visit here.
Dr Flora MacAulay’s Photographs
Dr Flora MacAulay was brought up and educated in Wales to a Welsh mother and Hebridean father whose family were from the Islands of Benbecula and Lewis. Named after her paternal grandmother, Flora MacEachen, she came from a family of doctors and was one of the first female orthopaedic surgeons ever to qualify in the 1940’s. After some time practicing in Truro, she spent most of her life practicing as a GP in Carradale, Kintyre and on locum in the Western Isles. Her hobbies included tennis and photography but her passion was the Great Highland Bagpipe. She was a well known and loved figure around the Highland Games circuit and took many photographs of the great players of the day and the beautiful settings in which they competed. She attended the Northern Meetings and Argyllshire Gathering every year since the Second World War missing them only once in her later years when she was too ill to attend. She died in Campbeltown, Argyll in 1994 and was immortalized in the Jig written by Allan MacDonald, Dr Flora MacAulay of Carradale. With thanks to Allan MacDonald and Angela MacEachen for background information.