Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Overview

Come face to face with the people who shaped Scotland past and present. Reserve your free spot for a visit now.

 

Book now

Open daily, 10am-5pm
Closed 25 and 26 December
Open at noon on 1 January

Admission free

1 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JD

[email protected]

Visiting the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Those visiting the Scottish National Portrait Gallery will have their very own special experiences with the much-loved artworks of the nation’s exceptional art collection, as we are limiting the number of visitors in each gallery at any one time. To manage this we've instituted a free, timed ticketing system. Admission is free, and we recommend tickets are booked in advance to avoid disappointment. A ticket gains you admission into the whole gallery, including our exhibitions Alison Watt | A Portrait Beyond Likeness and Thomas Joshua Cooper | The World's Edge. Some spaces are still temporarily closed, so check here to find out what displays are included in your visit.

The Gallery

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is one of Edinburgh’s most remarkable buildings – a great red sandstone neo-gothic palace which sits proudly on the city’s skyline. The Gallery was designed by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson as a shrine for Scotland’s heroes and heroines. It opened to the public in 1889 as the world’s first purpose-built portrait gallery.

An elaborate decorative scheme, both inside and out, with its glittering friezes, evocative murals and extensive sculptural embellishment, make it a very special experience.

Learn more about the history and architecture of the building

Displays at the Gallery explore different aspects of the story of Scotland and her people, told through a wealth of imagery including portraits of famous historical figures such as Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Prince Charles Edward Stuart, through to more recent pioneers in science, sport and the arts including Emeli Sandé, Billy Connolly and Tilda Swinton.

Getting here

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

  • Open daily, 10am-5pm<br> Closed 25 and 26 December<br> Open at noon on 1 January
1 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JD

Accessibility & facilities

A full accessibility guide is available at www.accessibilityguides.org.

We provide a sensory map of the building to help visitors identify areas with changes in light, smells and noise. It locates seating areas and less crowded, quieter spaces. Printed copies are available from the front desk at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

  • Information desk
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair access
  • Wheelchairs available
  • Lockers (£1/£2)
  • Baby changing facilities
  • Buggy park
  • Seating throughout
  • Bike rack
  • Accessible toilets for gallery visitors
  • Toilets for gallery visitors
About your visit

About your visit

Opening times

Gallery Open daily, 10am-5pm.
Café Portrait Open daily, 10am-5pm (last orders 4.30pm). No advance booking required.
Gallery shop Open daily, 10am-5pm. Our online shop is open and ships worldwide.

Festive opening times

Closed 25 and 26 December
Open at noon on 1 January

What's open

Ground floor including the Great Hall and Ruined in the Contemporary Gallery.
First floor the Ambulatory, The Modern Portrait and Thomas Joshua Cooper | The World's Edge in the The Photography Gallery are open. The Library and Research Consultation Area is by appointment only.
Second floor including Alison Watt | A Portrait Without Likeness, Scots in ltaly, The King’s Last Day, Imagining Power, Art and Analysis, Heroes and Heroines and The Remaking of Scotland, Reformation to Revolution.

Contact

For general enquiries regarding your visit or gallery services:
+44 (0)131 624 6200
[email protected]

Your safety

We've instituted a free, timed ticketing system. Admission is free, and tickets should be booked in advance to avoid disappointment..
Everything you need to know about your visit can be found in our Frequently Asked Questions.

Families

Enhance your visit with wee ones with our Art Spot guide. You can pick up copies in the gallery or use our online resource. Who will you meet - and what will you spot?

Group visits

We are now welcoming schools and community groups of 10 or more to book free self-led visits to all our galleries.

Safety information

  • We have signed up to Check In Scotland, a voluntary service which enables visitors to quickly and securely provide their contact details to asssist with COVID-19 contact tracing.

  • We have signed up to the Good to Go scheme to show we are committed to meeting current Scottish Government health and safety standards for our buildings, staff and visitors.

  • Admission is via a ticketed entry system. Booking is recommended. If you have not pre-booked, entry may be available on the day. Ask a member of staff onsite for details.

  • We have instituted a programme of deep cleaning of the Galleries and will have staff onsite cleaning all touch points throughout the day.

  • We ask that you respect physical distancing from others during your visit.

  • We ask all visitors over the age of 12 to bring and wear a face covering. Our staff will be wearing face coverings.

  • Hand sanitiser is available in key areas, along with increased cleaning regimes in toilets and other high use areas.

  • We are admitting visitors coming into our galleries via hourly visitor slots. We hope that this will make you feel safe when re-engaging with much-loved artworks.

  • If you or anyone you live with displays symptoms associated with COVID-19, please delay your visit until it is safe to do so.

  • Download Smartify to access our highlights tour, large print labels and get more information about the artworks during your visit.

Tour of The Great Hall at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Liz Louis, Curator of Portraiture introduces the Great Hall of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Liz gives us a tour of the elaborate decorative interior and examines the glittering frieze and mural decorations by William Brassey Hole. The Great Hall is a work of art in itself, and Liz explains how the decorative scheme relates to both the outside of the building, and the contents that it was purpose built to house.

Tour of The Visual Culture of the Jacobite Cause

Lucinda Lax, Curator of Portraiture (1700-1800) gives us a tour of the Jacobite display at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, home to the most extensive and significant collection of Jacobite visual material in the world. Lucinda gives us in insight into this fascinating display, focussing on the way Jacobites presented themselves in portraiture.

Featured exhibitions and displays

Featured exhibitions and displays

Gallery visit
Exhibition Closing Soon

Scottish National Portrait Gallery visit

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Open daily, 10am-5pm
Closed 25 and 26 December
Open at noon on 1 January

Admission free

Must see
Exhibition

Ruined | Reinventing Scottish History

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Until Sun 9 Jan 2022

Open daily, 10am-5pm
Closed 25 and 26 December
Open at noon on 1 January

Admission free

Must see
Exhibition

Alison Watt | A Portrait Without Likeness

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Until Sun 9 Jan 2022

Open daily, 10am-5pm
Closed 25 and 26 December
Open at noon on 1 January

Admission free

Must see
Exhibition

Thomas Joshua Cooper | The World's Edge

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Until Sun 23 Jan 2022

Open daily, 10am-5pm
Closed 25 and 26 December
Open at noon on 1 January

Admission free

Café & shops

Café Portrait

Open daily, 10am-5pm (last orders 4.30pm). +44 (0)131 558 7031

After visiting the galleries head to Café Portrait, where you can relax and enjoy a delicious lunch or coffee and cake in impressive surroundings.

All our food is prepared from scratch in our kitchen, which is why it tastes so good. You can choose from a wide variety of gluten and dairy free dishes.

Sample menu

Book a table

Christmas pop-up shop

Daily, 10am-5pm

Our special pop-up Christmas shop at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in now open. It offers the very best in those seasonal must-haves including decorations, cards and calendars, plus lots of gift ideas including great books, postcards, prints and jewellery. Our online shop is open too. We offer click and collect and ship worldwide.

Shop online
Venue Hire

Venue Hire

This beautiful neo-gothic gallery is one of Edinburgh’s most striking city centre event venues.

About us

About us

The National Galleries of Scotland cares for, develops, researches and displays the national collection of Scottish and international art and, with a lively and innovative programme of activities, exhibitions, education and publications, aims to engage, inform and inspire the broadest possible public.