Draw breath and escape with art

Explore artists and artworks, films, stories and art activities


Browse over a thousand highlighted artists from the collection.

Artist A-Z

The Queer Code | Secret Languages of LGBTQ+ Art

Explore the visual symbols and language used by LGBTQ+ artists and communities to suggest hidden identities. Oscar Wilde and his circle famously wore a green carnation as a signifier of their identities. These flowers are just one example of the many visual symbols throughout history, which hinted at secret sexualities and identities that had been hidden. So what other coded symbols can we find in the history of queer art? How did today's artist reference and re-use them? And how have hidden symbols transitioned to a wider and more expressive queer visual language?

Watch this series

How Artists Respond to Class

There’s this series of engravings by William Hogarth, depicting a young man who comes into an inherited fortune - think Pip from Great Expectations - innocently gazing around the townhouse of his tight-fisted father. Hogarth's work so often comments on the trappings of class and he was only one of many artists throughout history that used art to criticise and even break down barriers in society. So how have artists throughout history reflected and poked fun at class observations? And what role can artists have in highlighting social inequalities and creating change?

This film is part of a new series The Art of Discomfort which looks at how artists explore or present challenging themes in their work.

Watch the Art of Discomfort series

Perspectives | A series of filmed conversations

In this video series brilliant creative thinkers choose a work they love and share their way of seeing art and our world. These conversations, offer fresh perspectives on artworks in our galleries. 

Watch this series
Learning resources

Learning resources

Art is a tool that can help us make sense of the world around us. We've gathered resources to help teachers inspire children and young people to develop a positive sense of self, think for themselves, stay well and grow their creativity skills (problem solving, imagination, curiosity and open mindedness).

Take part

Take part

Free your mind and make your own art with us.

GIF it a go!

Free GIF making guides to download. Learn a new skill. Have a go at mixing up artworks and bringing them to life.

Art Around You

Art activities to try, wherever you are and with whatever you have around you. Free art learning resources for all.

Art in the Open

Spending time outside in nature is great for our wellbeing. Making art and being creative is fun and relaxing – so why not combine both?

Inspiring collections

Inspiring collections

New acquistions

This collection presents some of the works acquired in recent years, including painting, works on paper and photography.

Scottish art

In this collection, you can explore a selection of highlights from our collection of Scottish art.


The National Galleries of Scotland has over 96,000 objects in its collection. We have selected just a few of these for you to enjoy.

MacKinnon Collection

This unique collection of Scottish photography represents Scottish life and identity from the 1840s through the 1940s – a century of dramatic transformation and innovation. 


Browse the collection by subject

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Reviewing our collection content

As part of our commitment to equality, we are undertaking a review of the national art collection in relation to colonialism, slavery and their legacies. New content, in gallery and online, is being developed over the coming months in light of this research and will remain an ongoing project. If you see content that you think should be reviewed as part of this work, please email us. All suggestions will be considered. We are currently unable to give a timescale for when any agreed changes will be made but we will do it as soon as we can.

Past exhibitions

Past exhibitions

Browse our archive of past exhibitions