The Skinny Guide to Edinburgh's Art Galleries

For our 2024 Edinburgh Guide, we take a look at the classic and contemporary art galleries that make up the capital, and what they've each got going on for the rest of the year

Article by Rosamund West | 10 Jul 2024
  • Laura Aldridge @ Jupiter Artland

Edinburgh’s network of galleries range from the national collections to DIY artist-run spaces via internationally-renowned contemporary art spaces. In August, Edinburgh Art Festival takes over with a programme blending the galleries’ own exhibitions with an energising series of events and commissions

It doesn’t get much more central than Fruitmarket (45 Market St). Located next to the entrance to Waverley Station, the contemporary art gallery is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. This summer they’re presenting Songs About Roses (13 Jul-6 Oct), an exhibition by Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama, who’ll be working with materials collected from Ghana’s now obsolete British-built railway. 

Opposite, City Art Centre (2 Market St) has a varied programme ranging from contemporary art to the Science Festival. You’ll find Edinburgh Art Festival’s early-career-focused Platform programme in there this summer, as well as Sanctus! (both 9-25 Aug), a new film installation by Renèe Helèna Browne exploring devotion in relation to portraiture, faith, and belonging.

Round the corner, photography focused Stills (23 Cockburn St) has been offering exhibitions and practical training in their Cockburn Street gallery since 1977. This summer they’ll be presenting an exhibition of contemporary photography from Ukraine (2 Aug-5 Oct). 

Located within the University of Edinburgh’s Old College, law school and symbolic flashpoint for student and union protest, Talbot Rice Gallery (University of Edinburgh, South Bridge) presents a thoughtful year-round programme melding international artists and Scottish early-career residencies. Their next exhibition is the largest UK survey of the work of Ghanaian artist El Anatsui (29 Jul-29 Sep).

Nearby, Dovecot (10 Infirmary St) is a gallery built around a world-renowned tapestry studio, with Chris Ofili's major tapestry The Caged Bird's Song on display until 5 October. As part of EAF, Dovecot also present a triptych of tapestries by Christine Borland at the Edinburgh Futures Institute (1 Lauriston Pl; until 31 Dec).

At the top of Calton Hill, with some of the best and most accessible views the city has to offer, Collective gallery occupies the former City Observatory and City Dome. They’re celebrating their 40th birthday this year, and their summer show features figurative collage and paper sculptures from Scottish artist Moyna Flannigan, one of their early committee members. 

In Fountainbridge, Edinburgh Printmakers (Castle Mills, 1 Dundee St) have two exhibitions in their gallery space (both 27 Jul-10 Nov). Ade Adesina’s INTERSECTION combines objects, places and scenes from Adesina’s African roots, British culture, and encounters whilst travelling into visually captivating landscapes. Tayo Adekunle’s Stories of the Unseen re-examines stories about Blackness from a different perspective, challenging the narratives that we have been taught.

In Newhaven, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop (21 Hawthornvale) is a purpose-built studio system, workshop and exhibitions space with a forward-thinking education programme for children and adults alike. The summer show is Sequoia Danielle Barnes: Everything Is Satisfactual (9 Aug-1 Sep) as well as a new public commission by Jan Pimblett, Hybrids (12 Jul-6 Oct), and they’ll be running family drop-in sessions at the weekend in August with their much-loved Sculpture Saturdays. 

In Leith, Sierra Metro (13-15 Ferry Rd) is a small but perfectly formed gallery space, studio and coffee shop. For August they’re presenting a small soft space to land for brutal times, with Flannery O’kafka: For Willy Love and Booker T: Blue babies do whatever they want (10 Aug-15 Sep). Bard (1 Customs Wharf) is a gallery and shop with a craft and design focus, and presents work from artist and activist Matthew Hyndman (9-25 Aug). 

Edinburgh is home to a range of artist-run spaces, from established brick and mortar galleries to more peripatetic work popping up in disused rooms across the city. Embassy (10B Broughton St Lane) has been around for two decades, but its rotating committee-based structure has kept it young. Keep up to date with their events via their Insta. Sett Studios (127 Leith Walk) is an artist-run studios and gallery space, and for EAF they’ll be presenting a short residents exhibition U HAD 2B THERE ;-) (24-25 Aug). 

Artist-run Agitate (6 William St) is a photography-focused gallery, events space, bookshop and studio. Dissenter Space (, 94 Ocean Drive) pops up in unexpected places with a radical programme of performance and exhibition – the last pop-up was in an empty Wagamama in decaying shopping centre Ocean Terminal. Keep an eye on their socials for upcoming performances. 

At the more establishment end of the scale, Edinburgh is home to the various outposts of the National Galleries of Scotland, with the neoclassical columns of the National on The Mound forming the very centre of the city centre. They’re showing work by Irish Impressionist John Lavery this summer (20 Jul-27 Oct), alongside their permanent collections of Scottish art. Out west, the twin modern art galleries, Modern One and Two (75 and 73 Belford Rd) present a survey by Korean artist Do Ho Suh (until 1 Sep) and the much-anticipated Women in Revolt! (until 26 Jan 2025), respectively. The latter, subtitled Art and Activism in the UK 1970-1990, has toured up from London, and promises to inspire with stories of collaboration, creativity and rebellion. 

In the New Town, the Ingleby Gallery in the former Glasite Meeting House (33 Barony St) showcases work by internationally renowned contemporary artists including Katie Paterson and Peter Liversidge. They’re currently showing paintings by Los Angeles-based artist Hayley Barker, Rising Stone, part of EAF (until 31 Aug). Nearby Dundas Street is home to a scattering of commercial art galleries with varying specialisms. 

Finally, no visit to Edinburgh is complete without a trip out of town to Jupiter Artland (Bonnington House, Wilkieston), a magical sculpture park on the outskirts of the city which has been steadily growing year by year. This year’s exhibitions feature Laura Aldridge, who’s contributed a snail fountain to the permanent collection alongside her gallery show, and Andrew Sim, whose paintings of plants and rainbows interact perfectly with the ornate surrounds of the ballroom.