Accessibility

Your guide to accessibility at the National Galleries of Scotland

Everyone is welcome at the National Galleries of Scotland. 

Find out how we make our buildings, services and programmes as accessible and inclusive as possible.  

Parking and drop off

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

We have accessible parking spaces at both Modern One and Modern Two for blue badge holders. Parking is free for disabled visitors. 

At Modern One, there are four disabled parking bays at the front of the building beside the step-free main entrance, and two disabled parking bays in the main car park to the rear of the building next to the Changing Places toilet. There is a drop-off point at the main entrance. Modern One is equipped with two electric car charging points, trickle charge only (as opposed to fast charge). 

At Modern Two, there are four disabled parking bays at the rear of the building directly beside the accessible (step-free) entrance. The drop-off point is also to the rear of the Modern Two building adjacent to the accessible entrance and accessible parking. 

Scottish National Gallery

The disabled parking spaces on the Mound precinct at the Scottish National Gallery are currently not in operation due to construction work. There is parking close by including for those with a blue badge. The drop-off point for the Scottish National Gallery is at the foot on the Mound by the bollards leading onto the Mound precinct. 

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Cars (but not larger vehicles) with blue badges are permitted to park in the back lane of the Portrait Gallery as long as they avoid access points and fire exits (which are marked with double yellow lines). The Highway Code applies.

The nearest designated parking bays for blue badge holders are on West Register Street and St James Place. These are a 5-8 min walk to the Portrait Gallery. 

The drop off point for disabled visitors is in the one-way lane (North St Andrew Lane) behind the Portrait Gallery. This is accessed from North St David Street. Visitors are requested to press the buzzer on the second door along the back of the building (labelled Groups Entrance) and a member of staff will come and greet you.

Accessible parking at Modern One.

Gallery bus

We are not currently able to operate the Gallery Bus service. We will begin the service again as soon as it is safe to do so. For more updates, please visit our gallery bus page. 

The gallery bus

Tickets 

We've instituted a free, timed ticketing system at all venues. Tickets should be booked in advance to avoid disappointment. Please visit our venues pages to find out more. 

Entry to the galleries is free. For paid exhibitions, concessions are available for disabled visitors. Carers accompanying visitors with disabilities can enter exhibitions free of charge.  

Carers accompanying visitors with disabilities are able to attend events free of charge however, some events have limited space, so these may be restricted to carers assisting but not participating. 

Information desks

There are information desks at the National Gallery, Portrait Gallery and at Modern One. Visitors to Modern Two who are in need of assistance will find a member of staff near the main entrance. Visitors may also ring a bell for assistance at the accessible rear entrance. 

The information desk at the Portrait Gallery.

Toilets and Changing Places toilet

There are accessible toilets at all our sites. There is a full Changing Places Toilet in the car park behind Modern One. Maps showing the location of our toilets can be found on each of the venue pages

Changing Places toilet (exterior)
Changing Places toilet (interior)

Seating 

There is seating throughout the gallery. We also provide portable stools which are situated on racks on every floor of the gallery. 

Lockers 

Lockers are available at all sites (charge £1/£2) to store your bags. Buggies are welcomed as are baby carriers. 

Staff  

Most staff have received equalities awareness training, dementia awareness training, visual impairment awareness training, deaf awareness training and BSL training. Most front of house staff at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art have also received training from PAMIS on disability awareness and on Changing Places Toilets. 

Wheelchair and step-free access

There is step-free and wheelchair access to all of our galleries.

Wheelchairs are available to borrow free of charge. They are regularly sanitised as part of our routine cleaning procedures. For questions or assistance, please approach any staff member.  

We have an area to charge mobility scooters and battery powered wheelchairs at each gallery. Please ask a member of staff and they will be happy to assist you. 

There are lifts to all floors. All lifts in the galleries have audio announcements.   

There are wheelchair accessible toilets at all our galleries. 

The main entrances of the National Gallery, Portrait Gallery and Modern One can be accessed via a ramp.  At Modern Two there is a step-free/accessible entrance to the rear of the building adjacent to the disabled parking bays.

Guide and assistance dogs

Guide dogs, hearing dogs and assistance dogs are welcome at all of our galleries.

Water bowls for assistance dogs are available, please ask front of house or café staff for assistance.  

Toilet areas for assistance dogs have been identified at each gallery. Please ask a member of staff. Please ensure that any animal waste is disposed of in nearby dustbins.

The area to the side of the Portrait Gallery that can be used for dog toileting.
The grassy areas in the grounds of the Gallery of Modern Art can be used for dog toileting.

Visually impaired access

Guide and assistance dogs are welcome at all our galleries.

For your health and safety, large print labels have been removed from galleries and replaced with digital versions. Download Smartify to access audio descriptive tours, large print labels and get more information about artworks during your visit. Users who have set their phone’s accessibility settings to display large text or text to speech will be able to access information about the collection using the app.

Pre-recorded audio tours:

Enjoy audio descriptive tours of some of the most famous artworks in our collection:

Visually Impaired Tour | Scottish National Gallery Highlights

Visually Impaired Tour | Sculpture Park 

Visually Impaired Tour | Portrait Gallery

These tours can also be accessed via our Soundcloud and Smartify.

Pre-recorded descriptive talks:

Enjoy descriptive talks which are suitable for both sighted and visually impaired visitors. Our visual describers take a mindful, closer look at artworks and invite you to take your time, to contemplate and to notice. 

In the Mind’s Eye talks

These talks can also be accessed via our Soundcloud and Smartify.

We run a regular series of free, informal, sociable sessions and workshops exploring art through audio-description and conversation for participants with a visual impairment. Please note that our Visually Impaired Programme is currently running online via Zoom

Browse events for visually impaired visitors

To book, please select an event and use online booking or contact the Information Desk on [email protected] or 0131 624 6560.

Deaf and hearing loss access

Portable hearing loops are available for public talks and lectures. These are free of charge and do not need to be booked. 

All in-gallery videos are subtitled. Where this is not possible, e.g. for some art films, transcripts will be provided.

Pre-recorded British Sign Language (BSL) videos:

Educator and mindfulness practitioner Trudi Collier has created a series of short videos in British Sign Language. The films explore the connections between mindfulness and art taking inspiration from artworks in the collection. 

Mindfulness and art British Sign Language (BSL) videos 

Events:  

We run a regular series of free tours and workshops in British Sign Language (BSL) for Deaf visitors for Deaf visitors. 

Browse BSL events for Deaf visitors

Dementia-friendly access

The National Galleries of Scotland received special recognition from Alzheimer Scotland as a dementia friendly venue. The majority of front of house staff have received training in dementia awareness and are ‘dementia friends.’

Please speak to a member of the gallery staff if you need help finding a calmer space during your visit.

Pre-recorded Gallery Social videos: 

Join artists from our regular Gallery Social programme as they invite you into their homes to relax, enjoy a cuppa and explore some art together. 

Gallery Social at Home  

Pre-recorded concerts:  

Enjoy a series of pre-recorded dementia-friendly concerts brought to you by our partners Live Music Now Scotland. 

Concerts at Home  

Events:  

Gallery Social is a monthly programme of free, relaxed artist-led sessions for individuals affected by dementia to enjoy with friends, relatives and supporters. Please note that our Gallery Social programme is currently running online via Zoom. 

Browse dementia-friendly events

To book, please select an event and use online booking or contact the Information Desk on  [email protected] or 0131 624 6560.      

Autism and sensory-friendly access

Please speak to a member of the gallery staff if you need help finding a calmer space during your visit.

We provide a sensory map of the Portrait Gallery 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 information desk at the Portrait Gallery. 

This short video introduces the Scottish National Portrait Gallery venue to help potential visitors plan a visit.   

 

Pre-recorded Sensory Sculpture Stories:

We have created the series Sensory Sculpture Stories  with PAMIS (Promoting A More Inclusive Society) - to encourage you to use your senses to enjoy and experience the sculptures at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.   

Events:

We run monthly relaxed, supportive early openings at the Portrait Gallery for families with additional sensory needs. Families are invited to take part in creative activities and explore the gallery before it opens to the public at 10am.

Browse Early Openings: Autism and sensory-friendly mornings 

Profound and multiple learning disabilities

A Changing Places toilet for use by visitors with profound and multiple learning disabilities is located at Modern One, in the rear car park with accessible parking spaces located nearby. The unit is open 9am-5pm, every day, a key is not required. 

Pre-recorded Sensory Sculpture Stories:

We have created the series Sensory Sculpture Stories  with PAMIS (Promoting A More Inclusive Society) - to encourage you to use your senses to enjoy and experience the sculptures at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.   

Events:

At Modern One, we run fully inclusive multisensory storytelling events for people of all ages with profound and multiple learning disabilities and their families, friends and supporters. These sessions are not currently running, please check the website for updates.  

Group visits

We invite community and access groups to explore Scotland’s national collection for free through guided or self-led visits and free entry to all ticketed exhibitions (restrictions apply). For more information, please visit our Community and access groups page.  

A guided tour and workshop
Visually impaired tour

Events

We offer a range of regularly scheduled events for visitors with specific access needs. 

These include events such as: 

  • Visually impaired tours and workshops 

  • British Sign Language (BSL) tours 

  • Gallery Social events for anyone affected by dementia 

  • Dementia-friendly concerts

  • Autism and sensory-friendly mornings

  • Sensory storytelling for all ages 

Browse events for visitors with specific access needs 

Accessibility guides:

We provide detailed accessibility guides for the Portait Gallery, Modern One and Modern Two on accessibilityguides.org. Please note these may not reflect current COVID-19 restrictions. For updated information please refer to the information above or contact us. 

There’s currently construction work at the National Gallery and some facilities will be temporarily removed. 

Contact us

If you would like additional information about access at the National galleries of Scotland, please contact [email protected] or 0131 624 6490. 

If you would like to recieve regular updates about our access events and activities, please contact the Learning and Engagement Team on [email protected] or  0131 624 6410.