Nora E. Scott was born in Prestwick, Scotland, and as a young teenager moved with her family to the USA. Her father was appointed a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and she attended the Horace Mann School. She earned a B.A. in Classics from Barnard College, and in 1927 her interest in ancient Egypt took her to Oxford University, where she studied Egyptology and earned a second B.A. and then an M.A degree. Her first archaeological work was with the Egypt Exploration Society at Armant, south of Luxor, Egypt, in 1929-30, after which she was hired by the Metropolitan Museum's Department of Egyptian Art to do archival work. Her participation in a Danish-led expedition at Hama, Syria, in 1933 only briefly interrupted her 40-plus year career with the Met. She organized exhibitions, analyzed sites that the Department excavated, and frequently contributed to its Bulletin. She also wrote and lectured on a variety of topics and taught as an adjunct professor at Columbia University. For many years, she was secretary of
the New York Society of the Archaeological Institute of America, eventually serving as
its president. By 1968, she was the chief curator and head of the Department of Egyptian Art at the Met and the editor of several volumes in its monograph series. She retired in 1972.