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7 Unmissable art galleries in Edinburgh for art lovers

BY Flo Saunders

30th May 2023 Art & Theatre

7 Unmissable art galleries in Edinburgh for art lovers

As a new Edinburgh art festival gears up to launch this summer, NT Art Month shares the best art galleries and festivals to visit in the Scottish capital

The inaugural NT Art Month launches in Edinburgh this June—this month-long festival is a celebration of Edinburgh’s vibrant arts quarter in the New Town, highlighting the amazing commercial galleries in the area.

Here are our top picks of the Edinburgh arts scene:

The oldest one: The Scottish Gallery

Birch Still Life on the Bay exhibited at The Scottish GalleryDonnie Muncro, Birch Still Life on the Bay, 2021

Established in 1842, The Scottish Gallery has exhibited and sold work by the leading Scottish artists of the day for over 180 years.

For NT Art Month, The Scottish Gallery will be showing works by former Runrig Frontman, Donnie Munro. Munro’s first solo show opens Thursday, June 1, featuring a collection of new works.

"The Scottish Gallery has exhibited and sold work by the leading Scottish artists of the day for over 180 years"

Later this summer, the gallery will present Wonder Women comprising three internationally recognised artists who are all closely associated with The Scottish Gallery—Dame Elizabeth Blackadder (1931-2021), Wendy Ramshaw, OBE (1939-2018) and Bodil Manz at 80. 

The newest one: Powderhall Bronze Editions

Powderhall Bronze Editions Edinburgh art galleryPowderhall Bronze Editions showcases the best of bronze casting from Edinburgh's art scene

Powderhall Bronze Editions, the newest addition to Edinburgh's gallery scene, showcases a large variety of bronze sculpture cast in their own Edinburgh-based fine art foundry.

The gallery illustrates the wide possibilities bronze offers and platforms works by many highly acclaimed Scottish artists.

As part of NT Art Month, Powderhall Bronze Editions will share their specialist knowledge of bronze casting on Friday, May 23. Kerry Hammond, one of the directors of the foundry, will discuss the technique of lost wax casting at the Summer Place gallery. 

The fine art experts: Fine Art Society

Portrait of a Young Woman by William McTaggart exhibited at Fine Art SocietyWilliam McTaggart, Portrait of a Young Woman, date unknown

Established in 1876, The Fine Art Society's two gallery spaces in London and Edinburgh handle British and Scottish art, design, and decorative arts from the 18th Century to the post-war period.

The Fine Art Society’s summer exhibition will highlight the gallery’s values and heritage spanning a 300-year period from the 1670s to the 1970s. Notable exhibits in this show are two works by one of Scotland’s most daring nineteenth-century painters, William McTaggart (1835-1910). 

The one where you can see art-in-action: Dovecot Studios

Dovecot Studios weaving room Edinburgh art galleryCredit: Macfack. Dovecot Studios celebrates the art of textiles in its renowned Weaving Room

Dovecot Studios is a world-renowned tapestry studio and a landmark centre for contemporary art, craft, and design.

Occupying an extraordinary building, formerly Victorian baths, Dovecot has a public viewing gallery that allows visitors a birds-eye-view of the weaving floor.

"Dovecot Studios is a world-renowned tapestry studio"

This summer, Dovecot is celebrating the works of female Scottish artists across 250 years in a major new exhibition. Scottish Women Artists: 250 Years of Challenging Perception explores the significance of work by women artists in Scotland’s cultural history. 

The one that’s not a gallery: Bacco Wine

James Glossop exhibition at BaccoJames Glossop's photography will be exhibited in a pop-up at Bacco Wine

James Glossop’s photography pop-up A Means To An End will be shown at Bacco Wine throughout NT Art Month.

Glossop is an experienced and versatile commercial and editorial photographer based in Yorkshire and Scotland. The show’s title questions the purpose of image-making and its role in the art world. 

As part of NT Art Month’s aim to highlight local businesses, the festival has also partnered with other locations to provide a welcome rest between galleries.

Festival drinks sponsors Good Brothers Wine will be opening the doors to their new location, Good Brothers Wine Cellars, for NT Art Month’s launch on June 7.  

The Little White Pig will be offering special deals on cocktails during the festival (check NT Art Month socials for details!), with Urban Angel café offering a special hot chocolate deal for investigative young art lovers who complete an NT Art Month scavenger hunt.

The one that’s not in Edinburgh: Marchmont House

Marchmont House, Edinburgh art galleryCredit: James Denham, CC BY-SA 2.0. Marchmont House is reopening as a grand art gallery outside Edinburgh

This bold Borders Grade A listed Palladian mansion is worth a trip beyond Edinburgh’s bounds.

After a seven-year renovation and re-furnishing, as well as nurturing the house and estate’s stories, Marchmont aims to be a hub of grandeur and creativity, constantly developing and evolving with exciting ventures to support the arts.

This summer, they are offering garden tours, musical performances and weekend retreats for crafts such as silversmithing and pottery. 

The one to get immersed in: Hidden Door

Scottish Widow venue as art gallery at Edinburgh art festival Hidden DoorCredit: James Duncan. Hidden Door hosts a pop-up art festival in derelict spaces around Edinburgh

Hidden Door is an annual multi-arts festival, taking place a different location each year. In June 2023, Hidden Door hosts a five-day immersive event transforming an office space into an atmospheric festival of music, performance and art.

"Hidden Door opens up forgotten urban spaces for the public to explore"

Hidden Door opens up forgotten urban spaces for the public to explore and discover incredible music, art, theatre, film, dance, spoken word and more. 

Visual arts are well-represented across the city, with the Edinburgh Art Festival (EAF) running in August coinciding with the city’s famous International and Fringe festivals.

Established in 2004, this yearly festival includes many of the venues on this list, as well as the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop and National Galleries of Scotland. 

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