First look inside the new Scottish Galleries at The National in Edinburgh

25 September 2023
Graphic by Cadpeople, Hoskins Architects and Metaphor
Opening to the public on 30 September 2023, the new Scottish galleries at the National in Edinburgh showcase beautiful, historic Scottish art

Transforming the visitor experience and more than doubling the physical display space, 12 galleries allow visitors to dive into dramatic landscapes, encounter iconic images and be wowed by art from 1800 to 1945.

The views over the city entice visitors to come in and discover the work of pioneering Scottish artists such as William McTaggart, Anne Redpath, Phoebe Anna Traquair, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Boys. 

Explore the new Scottish galleries

The new Scottish galleries at the National will bring the nation’s artistic heritage to life – from much-loved Scottish Colourists as well as major works from the first half of the 20th century to stellar works from the early 1800s onwards.

New ways of looking at Scotland’s natural and built environments will be on offer, with early photographs of Scotland’s capital city shown in the same spaces as grand paintings of majestic Highland landscapes, including works such as Landseer’s Monarch of the Glen.

Monarch of the Glen, Sir Edwin Landseer. National Galleries of Scotland. Purchased by the National Galleries of Scotland as a part gift from Diageo Scotland 

Reimagined displays of drawings and sketches will celebrate artists such as Glasgow Style pioneer Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh and Alloa-born David Allan, whose depictions of ‘Edinburgh Characters’ will allow visitors to get up close to street life in the Scottish capital in the late 18th century. 

The new galleries are easier to access than ever before, to ensure that the greatest number of people can discover the fascinating Scottish art on display. They have an accessible path in east Princes Street Gardens, new lifts, a partial changing place facility, accessible entrance, accessible toilets and a pram store. 

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New Scottish Galleries at the National. Courtesy of National Galleries of Scotland. Photo Credit Campbell Donaldson, Ralia Media

These fresh new spaces will showcase the nation’s collection of historic Scottish art in new ways through a series of trails, audio guides and events.

With even more to explore across the National, there will also be five new international hangs at the Mound level to enjoy, offering in total over 460 artworks to discover. These galleries feature international superstars such as Poussin, Gauguin, Monet, Chardin and Canaletto. The new Scottish galleries at the National also includes three new areas specifically designed to display drawings and other fragile artworks, which will change regularly throughout the year.  

New Scottish Galleries at the National. Courtesy of National Galleries of Scotland. Photo Credit Campbell Donaldson, Ralia Media

Sir John Leighton, Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland, said: “With this project we set out to transform the experience of visiting the National and to show the world’s greatest collection of Scottish art with real pride and ambition. With the new Scottish galleries at the National, we have achieved these aims and more. The gallery is more accessible than ever before and there is a stunning new display of 150 years of Scottish art in all its richness and depth. From this Saturday, everyone is welcome to discover a brilliant new experience, free, in the heart of our nation’s capital.” 

The total project cost is £38.62 million. This has been funded by major contributions from the Scottish Government (£15.25m) and The National Lottery Heritage Fund (£6.89 million). An extremely successful fundraising campaign raised over £16m thanks to an extraordinarily generous response in donations from trusts, foundations, Patrons, the National Galleries of Scotland’s Friends organisation, American Patrons and a wide range of private individuals. 

The National, The Mound, Edinburgh EH2 2EL; tel: 0131 624 6200; website. Open daily, 10am to 5pm.