Edinburgh is the cultural capital of Scotland! It’s a bustling centre full of museums, history, and art. If you’re planning a trip to Edinburgh or you’re thinking of venturing up north, these are the best art galleries to visit while you’re there!
1. Scottish National Gallery
The Scottish National Gallery is just that! The national art gallery of Scotland. You can find it on top of The Mound in central Edinburgh. The Scottish National Gallery was first opened in 1859 by Prince Albert.
William Playfair designed the building itself in a neoclassical style reminiscent of ancient Greek temples. The Scottish National Galleries have over 90,000 objects in their collection. Some of the highlights include significant works by the greats Titian, Rembrandt, and Vermeer.
In addition, it also has an extraordinary collection of Picasso, Hockney, and Warhol. The Scottish National Gallery is free to enter and will keep you entertained for an entire day! It’s one of Scotland’s best free visitor attractions.
2. The Fine Art Society
The Fine Art Society has locations in London and Edinburgh. The Fine Art Society has been a staple of the British art scene since 1876. The Fine Art Society are specialists in Scottish art from the 1700s Scottish colourists to the present day. They also have a stunning collection of London-based Victorian and Edwardian artists. It’s worth visiting their luxurious two-storey gallery space in Edinburgh’s New Town. You can also visit The Fine Art Society in their Georgian townhouse on Carnaby Street, London. View the unparalleled exhibitions at The Fine Art Society next time you’re in Edinburgh.
3. Street Art in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is filled with street art if you know where to look! Street art is a great way to explore the city and head off the beaten path. We’ve searched high and low for Edinburgh’s top three street art pieces. All of them are vibrant, fun, and eclectic. It’s worth visiting Edinburgh just to see these unique works! First on our list is “Never Ordinary” by Shona Hardie, located on Candlemaker Row. Paramount Pictures commissioned this piece to promote their Elton John biopic. It features large fluffy red wings you can stand in front of for a cute Instagram pic! Next is the “Capita Mural” by Chris Rutterford on 145 Morrison Street. The mural depicts a Van-Gough-inspired skyline of Edinburgh.
And last but not least is the “Wildlife Mural” by Rouge Oner in Bridge 8 Hub. “Wildlife Mural” is a collection of native Scottish wildlife painted on storage containers on the outskirts of Edinburgh. It’s worth a trip to this evocative, creative collection of street art.
4. The Fruitmarket Gallery Edinburgh
The Fruitmarket Gallery is home to Edinburgh’s best collection of contemporary art. This is a free, public space located in the heart of Edinburgh. In addition to unique exhibitions, the Fruitmarket Gallery also organises commissions, publications, performances, events, and community activities. This is a beautiful place to spend a Sunday. After you have wandered through the collections, you can stop for a coffee in their onsite cafe and browse their bookshop.
5. Stills Gallery
Stills is a photography gallery space and film lounge. For the past 40 years, it has supported local artists and provided a range of creative educational opportunities to its local community. Stills can be found on Cockburn Street, a stone’s throw away from Waverly Station. Stills produces three major photography exhibitions each year. In their exhibitions, they prioritise historical work, internationally renowned artists, and new work by up-and-coming Scottish artists. The gallery is open five days a week, and entry is free.
6. Jupiter Artland
Jupiter Artland is a contemporary sculpture garden located just outside Edinburgh, with over 100 acres of meadow, woodland, and indoor gallery spaces. The Jupiter Artland Premises is the home of 30 site-specific sculptures from Phyllida Barlow, Christian Boltanski, Charles Jencks, Anish Kapoor, and Antony Gormley.
In addition, Jupiter Artland displays an annual, seasonal program of unique exhibitions. Jupiter Artland prides itself on exhibiting both established and new artists. Jupiter Artland is a beautiful, fantastic sculpture park that will surely be a highlight to any visitors of Edinburgh.
7. The Open Eye Gallery
The Open Eye Gallery is a stunning private art gallery. It has been one of Scotland’s leading galleries since 1982. The Open Eye Gallery has an extensive range of Scottish contemporary art for viewing and purchase. The Open Eye Gallery is located on Abercromby Place in central Edinburgh. It’s worth a visit if you’re interested in appreciating a well-curated selection of Scottish art.
8. The Velvet Easel
The Velvet Easel Gallery is a contemporary art gallery in Portobello, Edinburgh. The Portobello area is a lovely, quaint seaside town east of the city centre.
The Velvet Easel specialises in an eclectic range of modern Scottish art. The gallery was established in 2013 and has significantly contributed to Edinburgh’s arts and cultural scene. The Velvet Easel gallery presents a selection of works from artists from a variety of artistic backgrounds. If you want to invest in a provocative, exciting piece, the Velvet Easel is the place to be. The Velvet Easel is a warm gallery that is more than happy to assist with any customer queries – however big or small.
9. Summerhall Gallery
Summerhall Gallery has a little bit of everything. Being an event venue, theatre, cinema, art gallery, and market all in one. It’s a cultural “village” in the heart of Edinburgh. Serving locals and visitors alike with artistic and creative inspirations.
There’s always something exciting happening here, often hosts impressive art collections and exhibitions. Summerhall is a must-visit in Edinburgh. You’ll leave feeling inspired and enlightened. Summerhall is currently showing multidisciplinary, contemporary artists in its halls.
10. Collective Gallery
Collective Gallery is located in the building of the late City Observatory and City Dome site. Collective has a consistent program of contemporary art exhibitions. It also hosts guided walking tours and cultural events. Collective supports local artists and emerging artists through its “Satellites Program”. It’s worth stopping at Collective Gallery to enjoy their exceptional exhibitions and to have a bite to eat at their onsite restaurant.
11. Ingleby Gallery
Founded in 1998, the Ingleby Gallery is one of Scotland’s leading private art galleries. Ingleby Gallery runs a program of “ambitious” exhibitions and off-site projects. Ingleby Gallery shows extraordinary works by international artists and supports young artists early in their careers. Ingleby Gallery advises public and private art collectors, supports investments, and represents artists.
12. Edinburgh Printmakers Gallery
Edinburgh Printmakers is a creative hub for printmaking. You make prints, display prints, and visit print exhibitions at Edinburgh Printmakers. There are two galleries, a printmaking studio, and a shop selling original prints at Edinburgh Printmakers. This is the place to go if you want to dabble in some printmaking! Classes are open to anyone. You don’t need to be a member to give it a go! Edinburgh Printmakers opened in 1967 as the first open-access studio in the United Kingdom. Today, it is still one of the largest studios in Europe.
You can find Edinburgh Printmakers in Castle Mills, a beautiful heritage building in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh.
13. Embassy Gallery
The Embassy Gallery is an artist-run space in central Edinburgh. The Embassy Gallery houses exhibitions, performances, residences, and events in their gallery space. The Embassy Gallery prioritises artists who create experimental, critical, and timely works. The Embassy Gallery is a non-profit, volunteer-run art gallery that brings about positive change in the Edinburgh community. Embassy Gallery also offers commissions for artists who support their careers and work. The Embassy Gallery is a fantastic place to visit and keep next time you’re in Edinburgh.
14. Talbot Rice Gallery
The Talbot Rice Gallery is owned and operated by the University of Edinburgh. It is one of the best public art galleries in Scotland. The Talbot Rice Gallery is located in a 19th-century building that once housed the former natural history museum. The Talbot Rice Gallery is dedicated to exploring how the University of Edinburgh can contribute to contemporary art and support artists. The Talbot Rice Gallery focuses on displaying conceptual artwork that engages in political and social commentary. Highlights of the Talbot Rice Gallery include Lara Favaretto, Nira Pereg, and Qiu Zhijie. The Talbot Rice Gallery is open to all, and admission is free. Make sure this gorgeous gallery is on your Edinburgh to-do list.
15. City Art Centre
City Art Centre is the lifeblood of Edinburgh’s gallery scene. City Art Centre champions historic and contemporary Scottish art. The gallery often has a selection of rotating works from the Nationally Recognised Collection of Scottish Art. Visitors are spoilt for choice with the diverse, ever-changing exhibitions. These often include significant works of historic and modern painting and photography.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our top picks for the best art galleries in Edinburgh. All of these galleries are nationally and internationally renowned. Whatever galleries you visit, you’re guaranteed to have an incredible time. Edinburgh has a vibrant arts and culture scene. These are indeed only the tip of the iceberg. Visit our website for more recommendations on what to do in Edinburgh or Scotland!
Famous Artists That Live in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the cultural capital of Scotland. It’s home to some pretty amazing people. So, who are the most famous artists that live in Edinburgh? Who are the people endlessly inspired by Edinburgh’s beautiful architecture and stunning landscapes? We’ve found some of Scotland’s most prominent artists that call Edinburgh home. Read on to find out more…
Rachel Maclean is a contemporary artist based in Edinburgh, where she creates contemporary digital art that is complex and thoughtful. She is one of Scotland’s finest multi-media visual artists’.
Maclean was born in Edinburgh in 1987 and studied drawing and painting at the Edinburgh College of Art. Maclean has worked closely with Edinburgh Printmakers – one of our favourite galleries in Edinburgh. They commissioned her first solo show, “I HEART SCOTLAND”, in 2014. The show was a commentary on Scottish nationalism in the lead-up to the independence referendum. Over 20 unique works were produced for the exhibition at Edinburgh Printmakers.
Rachel Maclean creates that follows the narrative arc of fairy tales but engages with ideas like nationalism, gender, identity, and class. Maclean’s works are often colourful and over-saturated. This vibrant juxtaposes provocative and, at times, distressing – themes and imagery. Maclean dresses her characters in exaggerated costumes that evoke a sense of make-believe. This is amplified by using green screen visual effects and electronic soundtracks. The National Galleries of Scotland describes her work as simultaneously “seductive and disturbing”.
Other notable career highlights include solo shows in New York, London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Keil, Manchester, Texas, and Canberra. She also won the prestigious Margaret Tait Award in 2013 for her work “A Whole New World”. She has been shortlisted twice for the Jarman Award, an annual prize for artists working with the moving image. Maclean was also chosen to represent Scotland at the 2017 Venice Biennale festival. In addition, BBC and Channel 4 have commissioned Mclean’s artistry for TV. Maclean remains one of Edinburgh’s most talented and loved contemporary artists.
Sandy Stoddart lives and works in Edinburgh and was born and bred in Edinburgh. He is one of Scotland’s most renowned sculptures. Since 2008, Stoddart has been honoured with “Queen’s Sculptor in Ordinary Scotland.” Stoddart studied fine art at the Glasgow School of Art and is an Honorary Professor at the University of the West of Scotland. Stoddart describes his life mission as “to do a sculpture for Scotland”. Stoddard creates contemporary public sculptures that are inspired by neoclassical idioms. He uses a mixture of clay and bronze to make figurative sculptures of essential Scots. Stoddard seeks to sculpt people in a fashion that does justice to their prowess. Stoddard believes this has important implications for the Scottish national consciousness. He says, “We [Scots] need serious monuments which don’t have the Braveheart touch. If we’re to be a nation, we need that.”
Stoddart has received significant acclaim for his unique reinterpretation of the traditional civic monument. Next time you’re in Edinburgh, look for the statutes of Scottish philosophers David Hume and Adam Smith on the Royal Mile. Stoddart has also commissioned works for international clients. He has sculpted a 14ft statue of the Italian humanist Leon Battista Alberti for the University of Notre Dame in the United States. A copy of Stoddart’s monument to John Witherspoon is displayed at Princeton University. Despite his international reputation, Stoddart continues to live and work in Edinburgh. Stoddart is a proud Scotsman who the people of his great country continuously inspire.
Kirsty Whiten is an exceptionally talented Scottish illustrator and printmaker. Whiten was born in Edinburgh and studied at the Edinburgh College of Art. She continues to live in the city centre. Whiten creates contemporary visual art inspired by humans, identity, and ritual transformation.
She describes this as the “imagined anthropological” in which she presents “frank images of people, dealing with their psychology and socially constructed behaviour.” Her work is provocative, confronting, and visually challenging. Whiten is a trendy Scottish artist. She often holds exhibitions at Edinburgh Printworks.
Best art Galleries in Other Cities
If you are not addicted to visiting art galleries already, you will be once you have worked through the best art galleries in Edinburgh. So here are a few more of our favourite Art galleries in South parts of The Uk