Before and After Coal | Images and Voices from Scotland’s Mining Communities

On now until Sun 15 Sep 2024

Open daily, 10am–5pm

The lift is currently out of order. There is no step-free/wheelchair access to the upper floors. We hope to resolve this issue soon.


Explore the history and lasting impact of coal through photographs and voices from Scottish mining communities. In 1982, American photographer Milton Rogovin came to Scotland to photograph Scottish miners at their pits, in their homes, and during their leisure time. Forty years on from the Miners’ Strike in 1984, the artist, Nicky Bird has updated Rogovin’s documentation by meeting with individuals and families connected with the original photographs.

More than an exercise in nostalgia, Before and After Coal is an innovative collaboration between Bird, the National Galleries of Scotland and mining communities. The project was initiated with a series of ‘Show and Tell’ events with people from across Fife, East Ayrshire and the Lothians. Those involved had so much to share about the content of Rogovin’s images as they recognised their fathers and mothers, grandpas and grannies, workmates and friends. Some even saw themselves in the images, only they were 40 years younger.

Participants posed for portraits in front of blown-up versions of the original images, donning orange miner’s boilersuits and helmets in tribute. They shared their own artifacts and memorabilia and reflected on what they saw. Their stories focus on themes of family, community spirit, work and place, expressing ideas and feelings about what has changed and what has endured. The results of this engagement are at the heart of this exhibition of new work created with Bird in response to Rogovin’s images.

The community engagement Mineworkings with Nicky Bird was supported by Creative Scotland’s open fund for individuals. The exhibition is made possible with support from The People's Postcode Lottery and the Scottish Government.

Event highlights

Find out more

Event accessibility

Exhibition accessibility

  • Large print labels
  • Wheelchair access


Swipe to explore

Gallery facilities

  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair access
  • Accessible toilets
  • Wheelchairs available
  • Public toilets
  • Lockers (£1/£2)
  • Baby changing facilities
  • Buggy park
  • Seating throughout
  • Bike rack
  • Café
Getting here

Getting here

Located in the city centre on Queen Street, the Portrait is easy to access.

Venue map
  • Open daily, 10am–5pm
1 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JD

Related events

Related events

Lecture or talk

Milton Rogovin and the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike (in person)


Tue 4 Jun 2024

12:45 - 1:30pm


Booking essential

Lecture or talk

Milton Rogovin and the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike (online)

Online via YouTube

Tue 4 Jun 2024

12:45 - 1:30pm


Booking essential

Music concert SOLD OUT

Sangstream Choir | A Concert of Mining Songs, with Sangstream Folk Choir


Wed 26 Jun 2024

6 - 6:30pm


Booking essential

Course or workshop

Visually Impaired Programme Online | Before and After Coal

Online via Zoom

Wed 21 Aug 2024

2 - 3:30pm


Booking essential



Supported by

Before and After Coal: Images and Voices from Scotland’s Mining Communities (paperback)

The voices of mining communities across Scotland fill the pages of this booklet, reflecting the strength and spirit of towns where families measure time as being ‘before and after coal’. 

In 1982 Milton Rogovin travelled from the USA to Scotland to photograph miners and their families. Within two years of his visit, miners were on strike to protest pit closures. Now, over 40 years later, the artist Nicky Bird has followed in his footsteps to meet people across Fife, Ayrshire and the Lothians with stories to share. Their words and memories inspired Bird to create powerful new photographs which feature here along with Rogovin’s original works.

Audio tour

In this tour Nicky Bird speaks with people from the Scottish mining communities about artworks in the exhibition. You will also hear a conversation between Milton Rogovin’s daughter Paula and granddaughter Malaika.

The conversations cover some highlights from the exhibition. The stories shared are personal and reflect a range of experiences of working and living in Scotland’s mining communities, both then and now. We hope the conversations that you hear bring you closer to the works in the exhibition.

Friends go free

Friends go free

Become a Friend to enjoy unique access to the nation’s art collection with unlimited free entry to exhibitions, Friends-only exhibition previews and a 10% discount in our gallery shops & cafés.

What's on

Browse what's on at the galleries below, or filter results to narrow your search.

or those for:
Custom date
Access options