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Art In Edinburgh

Updated on July 10, 2017

If you’re an art lover, Edinburgh is a great city to visit. Whether you like contemporary art, historic art, or all kinds of art, you’ll find a wide range of museums and galleries to visit. If you really want to take in all the art the city has to offer, you can visit Edinburgh in August, when the Edinburgh Art Festival offers over 40 different art exhibits. No matter when you visit though, you’ll be impressed by Edinburgh’s artistic offerings.

Edinburgh Art Museums and Exhibitions

The best place to start for Edinburgh’s large art galleries and museums is the National Galleries of Scotland. There are 3 different galleries to suit different artistic tastes. The Scottish National Gallery contains exhibits of fine art dating from the Renaissance through the 19th century. Its collection includes pieces from Van Gogh, Degas, Monet, Rubens, El Greco, Velázquez, and more.

It’s an excellent place to see historic masterpieces, and it’s free to visit. The second museum within the National Galleries is the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. This impressive art gallery sits in a neo-gothic red sandstone palace and consists of 17 displays dedicated to the history of Scotland and Scotland’s famous figures.

If contemporary art is more to your liking, you’ll want to visit the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. This museum encompasses two neo-classical buildings set in a beautiful park. They have a permanent collection of modern and contemporary art, including artwork from Picasso, Freud, and Matisse. There’s also a regularly rotating series of changing exhibits and a very impressive sculpture garden.

If you’re looking for more Edinburgh art museums, The Royal Scottish Academy is another excellent choice. This museum is located on the Mound, conveniently close to the National Gallery. The academy focuses on artwork by living Scottish artists and features a frequently updated rotation of exhibits.

Small Edinburgh Art Galleries

If you enjoy visiting art galleries, you’ll find many to tempt you in Edinburgh. Most of these galleries focus on contemporary art, and there’s an interesting mixture of paintings, sculpture, prints, performance art, and more. One of the most popular art galleries in Edinburgh is the Fruitmarket Gallery, located right next to the Waverly train station.

The gallery’s name comes from the space’s origin; it used to be a fruit and vegetable market and was bought by the Scottish Arts Council in 1974. Now it hosts engaging exhibitions from both Scottish and international contemporary artists. Another eminent gallery is Collective, located in Edinburgh Old Town on Cockburn Street.

Collective is known for showcasing the work of new artists, and they often feature experimental art. If you’re looking for something a bit more commercial, you might be interested in Arusha Gallery. This is a relatively new gallery that displays a diverse collection of contemporary art, including photography, paintings, sculptures, and more.

If you’re particularly interesting in photography, Stills is Edinburgh’s gallery dedicated to photos. All in all, there are dozens of art galleries in Edinburgh, and you can likely find one that’s perfectly suited to your artistic tastes. Take some time to explore, and you never know what kind of art you might find.


Edinburgh Art Festival

If you’re set on seeing a lot of art, you should try to visit during the Edinburgh Art Festival. For the month of August every year, the entire city turns out all of the art it can. The festival organizes exhibits spread across dozens of Edinburgh’s art galleries and museums. It also commissions a few brand new public art pieces every year.

The festival includes a wide range of art, so no matter what you enjoy most, you’ll likely be able to see it. There are always exhibits that focus on the work of historic masters. There’s also a wide selection of modern and contemporary art from both Scottish and international artists.

The festival organizers make an effort to include artwork from emerging artists, so it’s a great opportunity to discover a new, up-and-coming artist whose work you love. In addition to the many exhibits, the festival organizes a large number of events, including performance pieces, films, plays, dance, artist talks, and guided tours.

There’s a lot to do and a lot to see, and there’s also a massive number of artists and art fans visiting the city. This means that if you’re an art lover, it’s a great time to be in Edinburgh.


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