Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get there?

The National Galleries of Scotland is spread over three sites in the centre of Edinburgh, and are all within walking distance of each other. Follow the links below to find specific visit information for individual galleries.

Our Gallery Bus takes visitors between the three sites. See our bus timetable.

Where can I park my car?

You can park your car in either of the two (Modern One or Modern Two) car parks at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. The daily rate is £2. The Scottish National Gallery and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery are served by city centre pay and display parking.

Do the Galleries have wheelchair access?

All galleries are fully wheelchair accessible and have ramps and lifts to all levels. All have disabled toilets. There is disabled parking in the following locations:

  • Scottish National Gallery: between the Gallery and the Academy buildings, just off the Mound. Please wait to be let through the bollards.
  • Scottish National Portrait Gallery: free parking for blue badge holders on Queen Street and George Street.
  • Modern One: at the front of the building.
  • Modern Two: to the immediate rear of the building.

We also have a limited number of wheelchairs available to borrow on a first come, first served basis.

Are there special facilities for babies?

  • Changing: all the galleries have baby changing areas, located within the disabled toilets.

For more information about visiting the galleries with young children, see our page on visiting with children.

Do you have tours?

Yes, all three of our sites offer guided tours of both the permanent collections and specific exhibitions. See the What's On calendar for details.

Our free Family Trails are a fun way to explore.

  • At the Scottish National Gallery Information Desk collect the colourful activity trail 'Head to Toe'. Pencil cases filled with coloured pencils can be borrowed for a small deposit.
  • At the Scottish National Portrait Gallery Information Desk collect the exciting illustrated trail 'Faces, Features and Creatures'. A small deposit is required to borrow the handling bag for the tour.

We can organise guided tours of the collection and our exhibitions for schools, community and private groups. Charges may apply for these tours.

As an unusual present you can give the Gift of a Tour; an exclusive themed tour around the Scottish National Gallery collection.

You can also explore our collections online.

Do you have Wi-Fi?

Free high speed Wi-Fi (wireless internet access) is available at all sites, and you can access additional information related to your visit. Your mobile device will automatically detect nationalgalleries.org when you are on-site for you to log in.

Is there information in different languages in the galleries - French, Spanish, Italian, etc?

We currently don't have information in different languages in the gallery.

Do you have audio guides?

No. But you can access information about our collections online from within the galleries.

Can I take photos when I visit?

Yes, you are welcome to take photographs for personal, non-commercial use. Photography is not allowed in special exhibitions and may be restricted for works of art on loan to us. This is indicated by a 'Please do not photograph' notice on wall labels of certain works. Tripods, monopods, and flash lighting are not allowed in gallery. If you want to film in gallery you'll need to seek permission in advance.

Visitors should not photograph children, young people or adults considered to be at risk of harm, without permission from the individual or their guardian.

For more information please see our Mobile Use Policy

What is the Print Room? How do I access it?

Each gallery has a dedicated prints and drawings section, referred to as the 'Print Room'. Works of art (mostly on paper) that cannot be on display for lengthy periods are stored there for protection. Prints and drawings can be viewed at each gallery's Print Room by appointment.

Does the National Galleries of Scotland have a library resource?

Yes. There is a reference library at each site, all of which you can visit by making an appointment by contacting the Librarian.

Can I touch or get close to the artworks?

Many visitors like to get close to artworks to see details, brush strokes, signatures, and to point out things to their friends. However, the works and their frames are fragile and irreplaceable. We ask visitors to respect this and keep a safe distance.

Can I take my umbrella in when I visit?

Umbrellas are allowed and can be carried through the galleries. On rainy days, polythene covers are provided at the entrance. Umbrellas should not be used to point at the art works.

Can I take my backpack in when I visit?

Small lockers are available at each site and cost £2 for a small locker. There are also larger lockers located in the Gardens Entrance of the Scottish National Gallery.

Can I use my mobile phone in the Galleries?

Using mobile phones to make calls should be done with consideration to other visitors. Please refer to the FAQ on taking photos with mobile devices. We don't have facilities where mobile phones or other electrical devices can be charged.

Can I eat or drink in the Galleries?

For the protection of the artworks eating and drinking is not allowed in the exhibition display spaces, though there are wonderful cafes at each of our Galleries. The grounds at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art are perfect for picnics and the Scottish National Gallery is just next to Princes Street Gardens. Groups visiting the gallery can book the Clore Education room at the Scottish National Gallery or the lunch room at the Scottish National Gallery through our Education Bookings on 0131 624 64100 or email education@nationalgalleries.org.

Can I draw or paint in the galleries?

If you would like to sketch within gallery spaces you may do so using dry media (pencils, charcoal and pastels) and hand-held digital devices without advance permission. Please check with a gallery attendant when you arrive to ensure that there is enough space in the gallery for you to sketch.

If you would like to use wet media (oil paint, wax crayons, fountain pens, felt-tipped pens or watercolours), permission should be obtained in advance from the relevant contacts.

Why are lights so dim in some galleries?

This is usually for fragile artworks, such as pastels or works on paper. Bright light can cause some pigments, materials and works to fade.

How can I check the work I want to see is on display before I visit?

Please call 0131 624 6200 or email enquiries@nationalgalleries.org to avoid disappointment.

Why is my favourite work not on display?

Other galleries frequently ask to borrow artwork from us for an exhibition. This means that sometimes favourite works are taken off display so they can be enjoyed in another part of the country or the world. At other times artworks requiring treatment by our conservation department are removed. As the collection is large we rotate items so that the treasures in storage can be displayed in the gallery. The Galleries information desks can help with questions about location.

How can I access works in storage?

To check the location of a work you wish to see, please contact our Information Desk on 0131 624 6200 or email enquiries@nationalgalleries.org If the work is in storage, staff will help to arrange a visit where possible.

Does the National Galleries of Scotland have an online library resource?

Yes. You can search the library catalogue online.

Why do I have to pay for some exhibitions?

Admission charges apply for some temporary exhibitions to help meet the costs, such as transportation, that are involved in organising shows. Admission to the permanent collection is always free.

How can I buy a reproduction of my favourite painting?

Our Picture Library has an extensive range of images from the collection available to buy in a variety of formats. To see if your favourite is available, please visit our Prints on Demand section.

If the work is not available via Prints on Demand, complete the Picture Library enquiry form.

I want to buy a certain product from the shop. How do I do this?

You can buy products online by visiting our shop. For any further enquires on mail order, online ordering or any general shop enquiries, please get in touch either by calling our main shop customer line on 0131 624 6494 or by emailing ecommerce@nationalgalleries.org

Can I access a list of publications by the National Galleries of Scotland?

See our National Galleries Publications Catalogue.

Can I have a work of art valued by the Galleries?

The National Galleries of Scotland can not to provide financial valuations for any purpose. For more information, including details of valuation services, check the Curatorial Department pages in the Research and Care section.