Edinburgh Art Galleries

Taking a tour of Edinburgh’s art galleries is a great way for groups to absorb the culture of the city. Alexandra Bertrand provides a guide

Scotland’s National Gallery showcases some highly creative works, housing five exhibitions and 16 displays. There are three interconnected areas to the building that can be navigated easily. Two are housed in the main building on The Mound, just off Princes Street. Admission is free, though a small fee may be charged for temporary exhibitions which change regularly.

David Bailey’s Stardust, which runs to October 18, is a collection of the photographer’s work taken throughout his career, featuring familiar and diverse faces such as Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol and Johnny Depp.

Within Stardust, visitors have been viewing David Bailey’s Moonglow, which shows a more experimental side of his work in which he has used different techniques to modify and change the appearance of the images. Methods used include a combination of painting on canvas, distorting the negatives during the chemical process, graining the images to add an aged appearance and using silk screens which were painted with either oil or acrylic paints.

Additional exhibitions at the National Galleries of Scotland include Head to Head/Portrait Sculpture – Ancient to Modern and a comic book-style exhibition on Roy Lichtenstein, both of which run until January 10, 2016.

Groups intending to visit the National Galleries of Scotland should book their trip well in advance via the Education Department on 0131 624 6410 or email education@nationalgalleries.org. Self-guided groups of 10-plus should provide at least two weeks notice. Guided tours can be organised. A small charge applies. Organisers should book these at least four weeks in advance. Educational Groups and Community Groups are also well catered for. For more information visit www.nationalgalleries.org/visit/group-visits.

The other side of the gallery houses the permanent art collection, which houses over 96,000 works – most of which can be also viewed online.

Free to enter, periods range from Greek Gods to the Renaissance with works by Rembrandt, Constable, Van Gogh and Monet to name a few.

After touring the exhibitions, why not pop over to one of three café’s? All of which are lovely places to sit and eat. The Scottish Café and Restaurant at the Scottish National Gallery provides spectacular views over Princes Street Gardens. The gardens themselves offer a fantastic view of Waverley Bridge and are ideal for leisurely strolls. Alternatively, afternoon tea can be organised at the Gallery of Modern Art. For more information or to book visit www.nationalgalleries.org/visit/gallery-cafes.

The nearby iconic Scott Monument is a Gothic-style tower is approximately 200-feet high and has a series of viewing platforms that can be reached by a series of narrow spiral staircases. The highest platform can be reached by climbing a total of 287 steps and offers panoramic views of the city.

The £4 entry fee includes entry to the museum which details how the structure was built and the inspiration behind its construction. It  is the highest monument in the world for honouring an author - novelist Sir Walter Scott. The construction of the tower began in 1840, officially opening to the public in 1844. To organise a group visit to the Scott Monument, email elizabeth.gray@edinburgh.gov.uk.

For more information visit www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/venues/scott-monument.

If the ferris wheel is in situ as it was for my visit (for the Festival in August and at Hogmanay) jump aboard for amazing views of the surrounding area, including Edinburgh Castle, especially good at sunset.

Edinburgh has many smaller galleries to explore, most of which are free to enter. The Fruitmarket Gallery is located next to Waverley railway station and is open daily. Opening times are subject to change during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, so it is advisable to check in advance via www.fruitmarket.co.uk.

Specialising in contemporary art, The Fruitmarket Gallery is currently showing the works of Phyllida Barlow, who cleverly creates sculptures from everyday items and constructs them around various workspaces within the gallery. Ascending to the upper levels requires ducking under a piece of sculpture that travels around the whole of the top floor! All the sculptures are made using different materials - plaster, paint, plywood, cardboard, fabric and plastic. This exhibition runs to October 18.

Additional events are available to book on The Fruitmarket Gallery website.

Groups visiting this gallery can enjoy a short welcome and introduction to the exhibition when booked at least two weeks in advance. Group visits are free of charge. To book call 0131 252 2383 or email info@fruitmarket.co.uk.

Across from The Fruitmarket Gallery sits the City Art Centre, an abstract nine-storey former warehouse. Converted into a gallery in 1980, each floor is dedicated to the category that the paintings represent. For example, the first floor is home to People, second floor is home to Landscape; third floor is Still Life and the fourth floor houses Abstraction.

The City Art Centre holds creative programmes for families and adults. A designated Group Visit Booking Form is available on the City Art Centre website and visits should be organised as far in advance as possible. For more information or to book visit www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/venues/city-art-centre.

Art lovers should also look out for a Travelling Gallery that tours Scotland and showcases small contemporary art collections from different artists in a customised bus. An exhibition called Eyes on the Prize is scheduled to run until December 4, 2015.



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