The City Art Centre houses one of the finest collections of Scottish art in the country and is ‘Recognised’ by the Scottish Government as being of national importance. Consisting of over 4,800 works, it includes paintings, watercolours, drawings, prints, photographs, sculptures, video works, art textiles and installation art. 

Originally the collection was built around a group of civic portraits and city views, but in the early 1960s the Scottish Modern Arts Association (an association founded in 1907 to acquire works by Scottish artists to enrich public art collections) donated over 300 works to the city. This donation included key pieces by many major Scottish artists, from William McTaggart to Joan Eardley. The collection has grown steadily since then, through donations, bequests and gifts, as well as purchases. The Glasgow Boys are well represented, as are all the Scottish Colourists – John Duncan Fergusson, Samuel Peploe, Francis Cadell and Leslie Hunter.

The best-known artists of the 20th century Edinburgh School, including William Gillies, John Maxwell and Anne Redpath, all have several works in the collection, and featured post-war artists include Alan Davie, Eduardo Paolozzi, Elizabeth Blackadder and John Bellany. Our contemporary collection includes artists such as Christine Borland, Callum Innes, Rosalind Nashashibi and Toby Paterson. Viewed in its entirety, the collection provides a comprehensive overview of Scottish art.

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“The City Art Centre is one of the most important art institutions in Scotland." Professor Murdo MacDonald, Professor of History of Scottish Art, University of Dundee
Two visitors_History of Fine art

History of our Fine Art Collection

The City of Edinburgh’s fine art collection has developed since the 19th century through a series of collecting initiatives.  It continues to grow each year with new purchases, donations and bequests.

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Edinburgh Views - Nasmyth

Edinburgh Views

For centuries, Edinburgh’s unique setting, turbulent past, medieval Old Town, and spacious New Town have proved a draw for artists. 

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