9 Top Galleries to Find Must See Artworks in Scotland

Scotland

From Renaissance classics to contemporary Scottish paintings, Scotland’s galleries are filled with a diverse mix of iconic artworks, historic gems and celebrated Scottish-based artists for you to admire. Discover some must-see artworks in Scotland’s galleries – perfect for a flying visit or if you’re short on time. Also check out some ideas for staying a while longer, whether it’s enjoying a gallery lunch or exploring the nearby area for art-related attractions.

Be sure to book your visit ahead of time with each gallery and always make sure that any specific artworks you want to see are on display.

1. KELVINGROVE MUSEUM AND GALLERY, GLASGOW

MUST-SEE ARTWORK

Christ of Saint John of the Cross (1951) by celebrated Spanish artist Salvador Dali is much-loved and now has its own viewing room. Visiting this artwork is quite a meditative experience, especially on a quiet day, sit right in front of this painting and consider its unusual perspective. Other must-see artworks here include Monet, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Renoir, as well great examples of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style.

ABOUT THE GALLERY

Kelvingrove Museum and Gallery has an internationally significant collection of historical artworks and objects in a family-friendly setting. Enjoy a light lunch at the café whilst listening to the legendary lunchtime organ recitals in this stunning historic building. Find out about upcoming exhibitions

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Art lovers can make a day of it in Glasgow with some fantastic street art to explore in the city centre. Make time for a visit to the popular Gallery of Modern Art. Why not book a lunch or famed afternoon tea at the restored Mackintosh at the Willow Tea Rooms within the original Mackintosh-designed building on Sauchiehall Street?

2. ABERDEEN ART GALLERY, ABERDEEN

MUST-SEE ARTWORK

The Tennis Party (1885) is by prolific artist Sir John Lavery – one of the Glasgow Boys. This fascinating artwork was ultra-modern in its time with an action-packed subject that looks like a photo snapshot. It has multi-layered meanings and panoramic dimensions. You can also find must-see artworks from the Pre-Raphaelites, Tracey Emin, Dame Barbara Hepworth, Sir Edwin Landseer and the French Impressionists.

ABOUT THE GALLERY

Stay for lunch in the gallery café with fantastic freshly-made food and enjoy lunchtime live music concerts. Aberdeen Art Gallery was awarded Art Fund’s Museum of the Year in 2020 after its recent major redevelopment. The stunning interior now offers more gallery space and plenty of great views out across the city. For a family-friendly visit, try the interactive rooms and make use of free sketch books around the gallery.

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Explore Aberdeen city centre and view the granite gothic exterior of Marischal College. You can buy some art nearby from Enid Hutt Gallery or Peacock Visual Arts.

3. BROUGHTON HOUSE, KIRKCUDBRIGHT, DUMFRIES & GALLOWAY

MUST-SEE ARTWORK

Brighouse Bay, Wild and Burnet Roses (c1929) by EA Hornel is one in a collection of artworks by one of the most successful Scottish artists of his day. He was known for using photography to add greater detail to hands, faces and gestures within a loose, modern painting style.

ABOUT THE GALLERY

EA Hornel purchased Broughton House in Kirkcudbright in 1901. On his death, he bequeathed his house, studio and collection of works to the National Trust for Scotland. The property is open to the public with access to its Japanese-inspired garden.

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Kirkcudbright is known as the Artists’ Town. There was and still is a vibrant community of artists living and working here. Explore Kirkcudbright Galleries with its collection of national significance. Have lunch in the café – they do a great coffee! Also, try the local art tours and arts and crafts trail. You can also buy artworks nearby at the Whitehouse Gallery.

4. STIRLING SMITH ART GALLERY & MUSEUM, STIRLING

MUST-SEE ARTWORK

Black Beast Wanderer (1890) is by Joseph Denovan Adam, an artist famed for his depictions of Highland cattle. This striking image of a black-haired coo striding through the snow romanticises the wild freedom of nature in Scotland. Look out for Adam’s Highland cattle paintings in galleries all over Scotland. Also, look for artworks by Sir Henry Raeburn, Anne Redpath and George Henry at Stirling’s Smith Art Gallery and Museum.

ABOUT THE GALLERY

The gallery and museum has a cat, named Oswald, with his very own social media – keep your eyes peeled for him around the gallery! The Smith Café is also a must-visit. Choose from a wide variety of lunch options, all-day breakfast, or coffee and some spectacular cakes. Find out about upcoming exhibitions

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Stirling Castle is just a 10-minute walk away and has many fascinating historical architectural features, costume displays and a fascinating museum collection. You could easily spend the rest of the day here.

5. FERGUSSON GALLERY, PERTH

MUST-SEE ARTWORK

Eástre (Hymn to the Sun) (1924) by JD Fergusson is evocative of the contemporary modern style of the 1920s. Internationally-renowned Scottish Colourist, John Duncan Fergusson has his own impressive collection in this galley, as does his lifelong companion, Margaret Morris. It’s difficult to choose one favourite artwork here!

ABOUT THE GALLERY

The Fergusson Gallery is set in an old waterworks building, now an architectural gem. Here you can also find artworks by John Everett Millais, The Glasgow School, the Scottish Colourists, The New Scottish Group, Beatrix Potter and Henry Raeburn.

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Have lunch at The Bothy. There’s time to see the Pictish stones at Perth Museum and Art Gallery, which has one of the oldest public collections in the UK.

6. MALLAIG HERITAGE CENTRE, MALLAIG, NORTH WEST HIGHLANDS

MUST-SEE ARTWORK

Blue Shadow Blues (1983) by Jon Schueler  is a stunning piece by internationally-renowned US abstract artist. Schueler visited the fishing village of Mallaig in search of a location for the subject of his artworks. Since then, he spent his summers in Mallaig until his death in 1992. His abstract paintings are perfectly expressive of the Scottish sky and the light. It’s worth seeking out his artworks in numerous galleries around Scotland.

ABOUT THE GALLERY

Explore the Mallaig Heritage Centre further for historic exhibitions and Pictish history.

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Here in Mallaig, you can also enjoy stunning coastal views, ride the Jacobite Steam Train or explore the west Lochaber area with its wild coastline and dramatic light. It’s a dream location for many artists. Seafood lovers can enjoy tasting a fresh catch at the Pierhouse in Morar.

7. NATIONAL GALLERY OF SCOTLAND, EDINBURGH

MUST-SEE ARTWORK

Monarch of the Glen (c1851) by Sir Edwin Landseer is an iconic painting, acquired for the nation in 2017, and remains a firm favourite with residents and visitors alike. You can see why when you view it in person. Also worth seeking out are artworks by Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Degas, Sargent, Van Gogh, Monet and Raphael.

ABOUT THE GALLERY

The Scottish National Gallery has a fine-dining restaurant, café and unique shop. Both its permanent and internationally renowned temporary exhibitions are well worth exploring.

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Art lovers should also visit Scottish National Portrait Gallery, browse and purchase art at the Royal Scottish Academy or take a stroll through scenic Dean Village to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Here you can have lunch or an afternoon treat at the foot (literally) of Vulcan (1999), an impressively-scaled sculpture by Edinburgh-born Eduardo Paolozzi.

8. PAISLEY MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY, PAISLEY

MUST-SEE ARTWORK

Portrait of Myself with Malthy by Pat Douthwaite is an oil painting by a Paisley born painter who became well-known as an ‘outsider’ artist. Her artworks are acclaimed by many for their bold and controversial style. You can view this painting when Paisley Museum & Art Gallery re-opens in 2022.

ABOUT THE GALLERY

The building is currently being re-imagined with exciting plans to transform it into a world-class attraction. This will offer increased recreation facilities, accessibility and gallery space. Here you’ll find a large and diverse collection of artworks, including 800 paintings. Also find works here from Glasgow School, Scottish Colourists, Joan Eardley as well as Paisley-born artist John Byrne. Stay awhile to explore the museum – seek out the Arbuthnott Missal and a collection of Paisley shawls.

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Just a short trip from Glasgow, Paisley was shortlisted for UK City of Culture 2021. Once a global leader in the thread textile industry, it gave its name to the Paisley pattern. Have lunch, Italian style, at Caffe Royale. Explore Paisley town itself with its impressive late 19th Century civic architecture and seek out street art murals before visiting Paisley Abbey and St Matthew’s Church with its Art Nouveau features.

9. PIER ARTS CENTRE, ORKNEY

MUST-SEE ARTWORK

Large and Small Form (1934) by Dame Barbara Hepworth is one of several works to seek out here from this renowned UK artist. Pier Arts Centre founder Margaret Gardiner was good friends with Barbara Hepworth. This collection has works from Barbara Hepworth as well as her husband, Ben Nicholson.

ABOUT THE GALLERY

This 5-star arts venue is well worth a visit on a trip to Stromness, Orkney. Here you’ll find a collection of 20th century artworks of national significance as well as significant contemporary artists such as Olafur Eliasson.

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There’s a healthy choice of shops in Stromness for buying works of art or crafts to take home or pick up some rare wool and hand-crafted knitwear at The Quernstone. Try the Bayleaf Delicatessen for some fresh, local takeaway lunch snacks whilst taking in the artworks at their in-house art gallery. Do not miss a visit to the iconic Ring of Brodgar stone circle.

By visitscotland.com

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