The exhibition about Mary Queen of Scots will be a "once in a lifetime exhibition" the museum said yesterday, and it will be the NMS summer show.
It will include loans from public and private collections across Europe, including the Royal Collection.
In January, the exhibition entitled Vikings! will feature more than 500 objects, including jewellery, weapons, carvings, precious metals and household items.
In February, the Art from Iran event will feature examples of Iranian metalwork and ceramics from National Museums Scotland collections.
The year will also feature exhibitions on early historic Scotland and Japanese woodblock prints.
Dr Gordon Rintoul, director of the NMS, said: "I am confident Vikings! and Mary Queen of Scots will be two of the most exciting and inspiring shows in the UK next year."