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 Thursday-Saturday, 10am-5pm

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, but tickets must be booked in advance.

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 Mary Sommeville, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns, 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.

In addition to the transport options below there are bike racks at each site and Just Eat Cycle Hire stations nearby.

  • Open Thursday-Saturday, 10am-5pm<br>
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
  • Baby changing facilities
  • Buggy park
  • Seating throughout
  • Bike rack
  • Accessible toilets for gallery visitors
  • No lockers
  • Toilets for gallery visitors
About your visit

About your visit

What's open

Ground floor including the Great Hall.
First Floor the Ambulatory and The Modern Portrait only. The Photography Gallery, Library and Research Consultation Area are all closed.
Second Floor including Alison Watt | A Portrait Without Likeness, Scots in ltaly, The King’s Last Day, Imagining Power and Art and Analysis.
Heroes and Heroines and The Remaking of Scotland, Reformation to Revolution are all closed.

Opening times

Gallery Open three days a week, Thursdays-Saturdays 10am-5pm.
Café Portrait Open three days a week, Thursdays-Saturdays 10am-5pm (last orders 4.30pm). No advance booking required.
The Gallery Shop Closed. Our online shop is open and ships worldwide.

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, but tickets must be booked in advance.
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?

Keeping you safe on your visit

Keeping you safe on your visit

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.

Book online

Admission is via a ticketed entry system which must be booked in advance online only. 

Additional cleaning

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

Maintain a safe distance

We are asking all visitors to adhere to current physical distancing rules.

Face coverings

In line with Government guidelines, we are asking all visitors over the age of 5 to bring and wear a face covering. Our staff will be wearing face coverings.

Hand sanitiser

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

Timed visitor slots

We are limiting the number of visitors coming into our galleries via timed visitor slots. We hope that this will make you feel safe when re-engaging with much-loved artworks.

Feeling unwell?

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

Smartify

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

Must see
Exhibition Coming Soon

Thomas Joshua Cooper | The World's Edge

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Sat 31 Jul 2021 - Sun 23 Jan 2022

Open Thursday-Saturday, 10am-5pm

Admission free

Gallery visit
Exhibition Just Opened

Scottish National Portrait Gallery visit

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Open Thursday-Saturday, 10am-5pm

Must see
Exhibition

Ruined | Reinventing Scottish History

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Until Sun 14 Nov 2021

Open Thursday-Saturday, 10am-5pm

Admission free

Must see
Exhibition Just Opened

Alison Watt | A Portrait Without Likeness

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Until Sun 9 Jan 2022

Open Thursday-Saturday, 10am-5pm

Admission free

Café & shops

Café Portrait

Open three days a week, Thursdays-Saturdays, 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

Shop

Closed until further notice.

We look forward to seeing you again in person soon. In the meantime you can visit our new shop at the gardens entrance to the Scottish National Gallery or order online.

Shop online
Research facilities

Research facilities

We are not currently able to take bookings for our print rooms and libraries. We hope to be able to offer them again soon.

Photography Collection

The photography collection contains over 40,000 works including the largest collection of Hill and Adamson anywhere in the world.

Portraiture prints & drawings

The portraiture prints and drawings collection consists of 20,000 prints and around 2,000 drawings and watercolours dating from the 16th century to the present.

Scottish biographical and portraiture library

The library has over 50,000 holdings largely including biographies of Scots and Scottish portraiture.

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.