Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Library, Archive and Special Books Collection


The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Library is based at Modern Two and consists of around 50,000 items, including monographs, catalogues raisonnés, exhibition catalogues, periodicals, auction sales catalogues, audio-visual material, and ephemera relating broadly to modern and contemporary art (1900 onwards) and specifically to the Gallery of Modern Art collections.

The library’s great strengths are Dada and Surrealism, early twentieth century artists and contemporary Scottish art. Artists’ books and special books are held in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Archive and Special Collections and can be searched for using the Archive catalogue.

Search the Library catalogue.

Archive and Special Books Collection

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Archive contains over 120 holdings relating to 20th and 21st century artists, collectors and art organisations, including the Gallery’s own papers. These comprise files of papers, drawings, sketchbooks, photographs, textiles, diaries, newscuttings and other printed ephemera.

The archive holds a world-class resource of material relating to Dada and Surrealism, the largest part being the archive and book collections of Roland Penrose and Gabrielle Keiller. The Archive is also particularly rich in papers relating to art and artists in Scotland.

The Special Books Collection consists of over 2,500 artist books and limited-edition livres d’artiste covering the period from 1897 to the present day. The main focus is on Dada and Surrealism, but the collection also contains many of the most significant books by artists of the twentieth century. These range from Oskar Kokoschka’s Die Träumenden Knaben (1917) and Henri Matisse’s Jazz (1947), to a near complete collection of artist’s books by Ed Ruscha, from Various Small Fires and Milk (1964) to Then & Now: Hollywood Boulevard 1973 – 2004 (2005). New works are added each year. 

The Gabrielle Keiller Library at Modern Two was specially designed to make these collections available to a wider public through a changing series of displays. In addition, material from the Special Books Collection is lent to exhibitions elsewhere, subject to the Gallery’s Loan Conditions.

The Archive welcomes gifts, bequests and long-term loans from art institutions, artists and their families.

Search the Archive catalogue.

Opening hours

The Reading Room at Modern Two is temporarily closed until further notice due to a major transformational project. Part of this project will be a reconfiguration of our libraries and print rooms.

We will reopen in summer 2017. In the meantime, we will continue to offer a limited remote enquiry service where possible.

For archive enquiries: or 0131 624 6268

For library and print room enquiries: or 0131 624 6253