Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art - National Galleries of Scotland

Scottish National Portrait Gallery
Food icon Shop icon Library icon Wheelchair access icon

Home to Scotland’s outstanding national collection of modern and contemporary art, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art includes two gallery buildings, Modern One and Modern Two.

Works from the Gallery’s collection, plus special loans, are presented in Modern One. The early part of the collection features French and Russian art from the beginning of the twentieth century, cubist paintings and superb holdings of expressionist and modern British art. Special highlights include paintings by Matisse and Picasso.

The Gallery also has an outstanding collection of international post-war work and the most important and extensive collection of modern Scottish art. The post-war collection features art by Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Andy Warhol and Lucian Freud, with more recent works by artists including Antony Gormley, Gilbert & George, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.

Modern Two is home to a changing programme of exhibitions and displays drawn for the permanent collection. On permanent display is a fascinating recreation of Eduard Paolozzi’s studio, as well as his 7.3m tall sculpture, Vulcan, that dominates the café. Modern Two is also home to the Gallery’s substantial library and archive, open to the public by appointment, and changing displays in the Gabrielle Keiller library.

Also in Modern Two is The Stairwell Project, a large-scale, permanent work by 2009 Turner Prize winner Richard Wright. Comprising several thousand individually hand-painted forms, the piece sits as Wright's most complex and ambitious work to date in Britain.

Set in extensive parkland, visitors can discover sculpture works by important artists like Ian Hamilton Finlay, Henry Moore, Rachel Whiteread, Richard Long and Nathan Coley. The lawn to the front of Modern One was re-landscaped in 2002 to a design by Charles Jencks.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

Open daily, 10am-5pm. (6pm for August only).

Admission charges


When the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art opened in 1960, it inherited a small number of 20th century works from the National Gallery of Scotland, but the majority of the collection has been acquired over the last forty years.

The collection now comprises more than 5,000 items, ranging in date from the late 19th century to the present and encompasses work in a wide variety of media, from paintings, bronzes and works on paper, to kinetic sculpture and video installations.

Highlights of the collection include early 20th century French paintings by Bonnard, Vuillard, Derain and Matisse; Cubist work by Braque, Léger and Picasso; early 20th century Russian art, including oils by Larionov and Goncharova; and a superb collection of Expressionist art, with works by Barlach, Kirchner, Kokoschka and Nolde. The post-war collection includes work by Morandi, Bacon, Hockney, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Moore and Freud.

20th century Scottish art is especially well represented, with works by Mackintosh, the Scottish Colourists, Gillies, Maxwell, Eardley, Philipson, Davie, Bellany, Currie and Howson, while recent acquisitions include works by younger Scots such as Christine Borland and Douglas Gordon.

The Gallery's outstanding collection of Dada and Surrealist art and extensive holding of work by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi is shown in the adjacent Dean Gallery (renamed Modern Two in 2011).

Since space permits only a portion of the collection to be displayed at any one time, works are shown on a rotating basis. Exhibitions are also held throughout the year. The Gallery's collection of works on paper is held in the Print Room, which is open by appointment.

Collection details

Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

Bridget Riley | Paintings, 1964-2015

  • 15 April 2015 — 16 April 2017 *on now

This focused display brings together a group of major paintings by Bridget Riley (b.1931) spanning over fifty years of the artist’s career to explore the dialogue between monochrome and colour in Riley's practice.

Throughout her career, Riley has created paintings that not only engage the eye, but which elicit physical sensations of flux, rhythm and energy. From the early to mid-1960s Riley worked exclusively in black and white, gaining critical attention internationally for her ‘Op Art’ paintings. In around 1967, Riley shifted her palette to grey and then to colour.

For the succeeding decades, Riley has employed a rich array of pigments as she has continued her investigations into perception and sensation through several series of influential bodies of work. Over the past two years, monochromatic paintings have returned into her practice. However, rather than reviving ideas from the 1960s, these paintings function in a new way, progressing directly out of the artist’s preceding paintings in colour.

Drawn primarily from a private collection, the display features several paintings that have rarely been exhibited. These works will provide a unique context for Riley’s painting Over, 1966, which has been held in the collection of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art since 1979.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


painting of young girl sat on a window seat with sunlight coming through a small window

Modern Scottish Women | Painters and Sculptors 1885-1965

  • 7 November 2015 — 26 June 2016 *on now

This revelatory exhibition of work by Scottish women artists concentrates on painters and sculptors. It covers the period from 1885, when Fra Newbery became Director of Glasgow School of Art, until 1965, the year of Anne Redpath’s death.

More than 80 works are on display, drawn from the National Galleries of Scotland’s holdings and other public collections from throughout the UK, as well as from private collections.

The exhibition includes familiar masterpieces alongside important works by significant artists which are rarely seen and who are not widely known. Artists represented range from Bessie MacNicol, Phoebe Anna Traquair and Gertrude Alice Meredith Williams, to Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, Dorothy Johnstone and Hazel Armour, as well as Phyllis Bone, Joan Eardley and Bet Low.

The ebb and flow of opportunities for Scottish women artists to train and practise will be examined, as well as the network of the artists’ relationships throughout the Scottish art world, whether familial, social or professional. The contribution made by women artists to this chapter of Scottish art history will be uncovered and celebrated




Surreal Encounters | Collecting the Marvellous

  • 4 June — 11 September 2016

This exhibition will bring together some of the finest surrealist works of art from four legendary private collections, those of Edward James, Roland Penrose, Gabrielle Keiller and Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch. The first two, now largely dispersed, were built up in Britain, often acquired from the artists themselves, in the 1930s, when, for a brief period, London was an important centre for Surrealism. The last two collections, one British and one German, were built up since 1960.

Gabrielle Keiller, who bequeathed her surrealist works of art to the Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, was able to acquire important things from the collections of James and Penrose. Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch, who still live in Berlin, have acquired works from a broad range of sources in their quest to build up an historically balanced collection of high-quality surrealist art.

This exhibition will examine the different impulses behind these four extraordinary collections and, by showing them together, will be able to present a fuller and richer picture of the surrealist movement as a whole.

The exhibition is jointly organised by the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, the Hamburger Kunsthalle and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. It will be shown in Hamburg and Rotterdam after Edinburgh.


£10 (£8)


Joan Eardley | Fifteen Years

  • 15 October 2016 — 19 February 2017

Joan Eardley’s career lasted barely fifteen years: she died in 1963, aged just forty-three. During that time she concentrated on two very different themes: the extraordinarily candid paintings of children in the Townhead area of Glasgow; and paintings of the fishing village of Catterline, just south of Aberdeen, with its leaden skies and wild sea. These two contrasting strands are the focus of this exhibition, which looks in detail at her working process. It draws on a remarkable archive of sketches and photographs which remains largely unknown and unpublished.

Eardley made literally thousands of working drawings, some of them slight sketches, while others are resolved pastel drawings, sometimes done on sheets of sandpaper. Many of the drawings are extended to the sides by other sheets simply stuck on. She also made hundreds of photographs, mainly of children playing in the street outside her studio, and commissioned a friend, Audrey Walker, to make photographs of specific sites, to aid her in her work. Precisely because she was an amateur photographer, and was seeking natural movement rather than staged poses or pin-sharp detail, Eardley’s photographs have a haunting quality: childhood and poverty are explored in a manner which is factual rather than sentimental.

The Catterline paintings likewise develop from rough pastel sketches, many of them never previously exhibited. Many of these unpublished sketches and photographs come from a remarkable archive, donated to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art by Eardley’s sister, Pat Black, in 1984. Fragile testaments to Eardley’s working procedure, they have been specially conserved and presented for this exhibition, where they are seen for the first time. The exhibition also features many loans from public and private collections, allowing the viewer to trace specific developments between the photographs, the drawings and the finished paintings.


£9 (£7)


Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art - National Galleries of Scotland
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
Belford Road




0131 624 6200

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.