Best free world-class art to enjoy in Edinburgh and Glasgow
- Rebecca Monks
- 21 September 2018
With a range of free galleries and exhibitions across both cities, there's plenty of scope to have a very arty day out on a shoestring budget
In Edinburgh, entry to all of the National Galleries doesn't cost a penny. The Scottish National Gallery on the Mound has one of the best fine art collections in the world, and is open daily (10am–6pm). Here, you'll find masterpieces by Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Constable, Turner, Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, and many others. There are some special exhibitions which come with an entry fee, but you can still wander round the main halls and take in all that ancient arty goodness.
The National Portrait Gallery is on Queen Street, and is also open daily (10am–6pm). The gallery was designed by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson as a shrine for Scotland's heroes and heroines, and has portraits of everyone from Mary Queen of Scots and Robert Burns, to Patti Smith and Muriel Spark. Over near Dean Village, the National Gallery of Modern Art (open daily, 10am–6pm) is spread across two buildings, with an extensive collection of work by Dada and surrealist artists and work by the sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi, alongside free and paid-for temporary exhibitions.
There are also several independent galleries worth checking out, including the Fruitmarket (daily, 11am–6pm), which is currently showing work by Tacita Dean, one of Britain's most respected and successful international artists. Plus, don't forget to swing by City Art Centre (daily, 10am–5pm), which champions both traditional and contemporary Scottish art.
In Glasgow, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum (daily, 10am–5pm, except Fri & Sun, 11am–5pm) is one of the most picturesque venues around, with everything from art to animals inside its 22 impressive galleries. The city's collection of 17th-century Dutch and Flemish Old Masters can be found in the Dutch gallery, while the French gallery features works by important artists including Monet, Renoir, Pissarro and Van Gogh. The Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style gallery features furniture, decorative panels and light fittings from the Ingram Street Tearooms, designed by Mackintosh in 1900–1912, plus reconstructed rooms including the Ladies Luncheon Room. And, well, we won't go on – there are 19 more galleries filled with impressive works of international significance. Go fill your boots.
Elsewhere in the city, the Gallery of Modern Art, better known as GoMA, (open daily, times vary) has five exhibition spaces presenting a changing programme of temporary exhibitions. Cellular World is a group exhibition running until Sun 7 Oct, which explores questions of identity and individual and collective consciousness at a time of prolific social change and uncertainty, when reality can often seem more life science fiction. Inner City is running until Sun 11 Nov. This exhibition has work by Michael McMillen as the centrepiece, while artists Alberta Whittle and Mitch Miller explore our relationship with our urban environment and the often-hidden communities that inhabit it. Plus, don't forget to check out the Hunterian (open daily, times vary), which is home to the world's largest permanent display of the work of James McNeill Whistler and the largest single holding of the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.