Opening dates announced for Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

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Opening dates announced for Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
Exterior of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Photo: Lisa Flemming.

EDINBURGH.- The Scottish National Portrait Gallery will reopen on Sunday 8 November 2020 with a new exhibition You Are Here 2020: Stories, Portraits, Visions, which will showcase contributions from the public and well-known figures. This includes a new acquisition – a portrait of the international singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé, painted by Samira Addo, winner of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2018. Visitors are able to book their free ticket at

Due to the staffing levels required to ensure COVID-19 health and safety standards, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One) will each open for three days a week from early November 2020 - 10 January 2021. A decision on opening days beyond then will be made in coming months.

This is a temporary measure which, during this time, will see the Portrait Gallery open from Sunday-Tuesday (inclusive) and Modern One open from Thursday-Saturday (inclusive) each week. Note that Modern One will continue to open 7 days a week throughout October; it will move to this new pattern from 5 November and will be closed from 1-4 November (inclusive).

The Scottish National Gallery will continue to be open and free to visit 7 days a week.

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern Two) will reopen on 24 October with our new major exhibition: Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema. It will be open 7 days a week.

Ahead of visiting any Gallery, people must book a time slot at

Each Gallery requires higher than pre-Covid numbers of staff to work in front of house roles in order to manage entry, oversee Covid restrictions and support our visitors. Detailed analysis showed that there were not the numbers of staff required to open all four Galleries seven days a week.

When the Portrait Gallery reopens, visitors will be able to enjoy the artwork on the ground floor, including the magnificent Great Hall, the ambulatory on the first floor and the galleries on the second floor.

On the ground floor there will be a brand new exhibition: You Are Here 2020: Stories, Portraits, Visions. This will showcase submissions from people across Scotland representing stories from this year, portraits and visions for the future. As of early October, around 120 submissions have been received. A rotating selection of these submissions will be shown alongside five striking examples of portraiture from the national collection. The five works are: two bronze busts of influential women: Scots Makar Jackie Kay and the pioneering Dr Elsie Inglis; a photograph and display of work prints by Iain Stewart from his series, Tender, for which he shadowed two Edinburgh GPs; Man Up a video work featuring Mercury Prize-winning Edinburgh band Young Fathers and a new acquisition – a portrait of the international singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé, painted by Samira Addo, winner of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2018.

Reformation to Revolution, The King’s Last Day: The Execution of Charles I , Art & Analysis: Two Netherlandish Painters working in Jacobean Scotland, Imagining Power: The Visual Culture of the Jacobite Cause, Scots in Italy: Artists and Adventurers, The Remaking of Scotland: Nation, Migration, Globalisation 1760-1860 and Heroes and Heroines: The Victorian Age exhibitions on the second floor will re-open.

The first floor, where The Modern Portrait exhibition is held, will be temporarily closed. The library (including the research consultation area) will also be closed. Due to the narrow spaces in these areas it would prove problematic to open them and ensure physical distancing.

Sir John Leighton, Director General of the National Galleries of Scotland said: “We are delighted to be opening the Scottish National Portrait Gallery again with an exhibition featuring people’s experiences of 2020. We have received many queries from the public asking when they can visit again, so I’m really pleased that we have found a way to manage this demand within the constraints that covid-19 has placed on us. This will mean that all four of the Gallery sites will once again be open and that once again we will be able to share the full breadth of our collection”.

“I am very grateful to all the colleagues at the National Galleries who have worked very hard to create a safe and engaging experience for our audiences and I am also grateful to our visitors for their loyal support. The Portrait Gallery has always been a place that helps us to recognise individuals, experiences and spark conversations so we hope that the public will once again enjoy the beautiful surroundings and artwork.”

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