{Scotland} A Mini Museum Marathon in Edinburgh

February 11, 2016

Scotland

100 Museums Challenge: Museums No.5, 6, 7 & 8

During my recent long weekend away in Scotland, I made up for lost time in my 100 Museums Challenge. After taking it nice and easy in Dundee on the first couple of days, I went on a bit of a ‘Mini Museum Marathon’ in Edinburgh. On Sunday, I visited four museums. It sounds like a lot for one day, but they were all within about ten minutes walking distance of each other, admission to all of them was free, and the smallest of them only took half an hour to walk around.

No.5 – Scottish National Gallery

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The Scottish National Gallery houses one of the best collections of fine art in the world, as well as hosting an annual programme of special exhibitions. On this occasion, I spent a happy Sunday morning in the ground floor gallery of the permanent exhibition, which Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Dutch Masters, among other things. Shortly before my trip to Scotland, the gallery had announced the return of the beautiful marble sculpture of The Campbell Sisters by Lorenzo Bartolini (1777–1850), after a two-year absence. After being on long term loan for 20 years, the owner had decided to sell it, but the story has a happy ending. You can read all about it on the Gallery’s blog!

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Side note: Displaying old oil paintings on dark red walls seems to be popular! Check out my post about The McManus in Dundee from the other day. Also, I really like this rainbow! (Souvenir of Loch Carron 1880 by Gustav Doré).

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The Scottish National Gallery is open daily from 10am to 5pm, and Thursdays until 7pm. Admission to the permanent exhibitions is free, but a charge may apply for special exhibitions. More info about opening times, admissions and current special exhibitions can be found on the gallery’s website.

No.6 – Museum on the Mound

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I always think the Museum on the Mound does itself a bit of disservice with its name. Behind the rather nondescript moniker – after the street the museum is located on, i.e. The Mound – lurks a fascinating little gem of a museum all about the (hi)story of banking and money. It’s got quite a few things to touch and activities to try, and I like to pop in whenever I’m in town to remind myself of my favourites. You can read a full review of this museum in my previous post >> {Scotland} Follow the Money

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The Museum on the Mound is Tuesdays to Sundays, and on Bank Holiday Mondays. Up to date info on opening times can be found on the museum website. Admission is free.

No.7 – The Fruitmarket Gallery

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The Fruitmarket Gallery, tucked in behind Waverley Station, exhibits world class contemporary art at the heart of the city. I have to admit I don’t visit here that often, since contemporary art is a bit lower down on my list of priorities, but every now and then it’s good to push yourself a bit out of your comfort zone. The current exhibition, which only runs for another ten days, is called ‘Another Minimalism’ and, quote, “Bringing the work of a select group of current-generation artists together with that of two pioneers of West Coast American minimalism, this exhibition examines the impact of California Light and Space art on artists working today.” 

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The Fruitmarket Gallery is open daily all year round and admission is free. Check their website for any changes.

No.8 – City Art Centre

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Edinburgh’s City Art Centre features a rolling programme of regularly changing exhibitions covering all kinds of genres and periods, both from the museums own collections and from all over the world. While there is a strong focus on Scottish art and new work from local artists, the exhibitions cover international art and artists too. I met a friend for coffee in the museum cafe before hand, after which we visited both exhibitions currently on display. The Artist and the Sea (showing until 8 May 2016) looks at Scotland’s long and complex relationship with the sea – its landscape, history and culture, and how these have been shaped by proximity to the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. I have rather a soft spot for maritime museums and exhibitions, so really enjoyed this one.

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The other exhibition was William Gear 1915 – 1997. The Painter That Britain Forgot (only showing until 14 February 2016). Apparently one of the most advanced British abstract painters of his generation. I had never heard of Gear before, which I guess it the point the exhibition was trying to make. If you don’t manage to make it to Edinburgh before the weekend, do look him up online. To make him a little less forgotten.

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They also have a nice new ‘ArtSpace’, where visitors can experiment with art materials and create landscapes, collages and portraits. It is open during normal gallery opening times and is free for everyone. On Saturdays between 2pm and 3pm they also have facilitated sessions in the ArtSpace, no booking necessary.

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The City Art Centre is usually open daily. Check their website for exact opening times or any holiday closures. Admission varies. Some exhibitions – including the two above – are free, for others a charge may apply. Again, the website will give you the up to date info on that.


This Mini Museum Marathon constituted museums No.5, 6, 7 and 8 in my ‘100 Museums’ challenge.

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