Modern & contemporary art archive and special books

In order to help protect the health of our staff and visitors during this difficult time we have closed all of our Galleries. During this time we're not taking bookings for individual appointments or group visits.

Location: Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern Two)
Open by appointment: Closed
Contact: [email protected]

The Modern & Contemporary Art Archive contains over 120 holdings relating to 20th and 21st century artists, collectors and art organisations, including the Gallery of Modern Art'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, largely drawn from 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, and holds material relating to artists including F.C.B. Cadell,  Ian Hamilton Finlay,  Joan Eardley and Eduardo Paolozzi,  and also institutional archives including the Society of Scottish Artists.

Search the Archive catalogue

Eduardo Paolozzi

Of Italian descent, Paolozzi was born in Leith near Edinburgh. He studied in Edinburgh and London and spent two years in Paris from 1947, where he produced enigmatic, bronze sculptures reminiscent of those by Giacometti. During the same period he made a series of dada and surrealist-inspired collages in which magazine advertisements, cartoons and machine parts are combined, thus anticipating the concerns of Pop Art. Alongside teaching at various art schools he developed his printmaking and sculpture. Paolozzi was particularly interested in the mass media and in science and technology.

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.

New works are added each year, including publications by contemporary artists.

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



Book a visit

First-time visitors will be asked to show some form of ID such as a passport or driver's licence.
Please fill in a visitor application form prior to attending.
There is wheelchair access to the library via a lift. 

Groups of up to 10 are welcome to visit the library.
Group visits should be pre-booked at least four weeks in advance.

+44 (0)131624 6268

[email protected]