One of the biggest reasons to visit Edinburgh is to look back at the past and explore the incredible historical landmarks and attractions. However, many visitors are also interested in the contemporary art that plays a big role in the culture of the city. Whether you are in Edinburgh for a few hours or a few weeks, make it a priority to visit one or more of these top contemporary art galleries and museums located throughout the city.
Located in a stunning 200-year old mansion in the very heart of the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Inverleith House is an unexpected treat for those who enjoy modern art. While there are a few exhibitions that remain in place constantly, most of the works are rotated in and out to feature British artists. As a large residence, the manor is an unexpected place to display works in a gallery setting, but that just makes the experience more exciting. Past displays have included pastel paintings by Karla Black and bold, oversize furniture that takes up the entire room by installation artist Robert Therrien.
Address: 20A Inverleith Row, Edinburgh EH3 5LR
Phone: 0131 248 2909
Arguably the best-known contemporary art gallery in the city, Fruitmarket is located in Edinburgh’s busy Market Street, and is easily accessed on foot or by public transport. Inside, Fruitmarket has a clean, modern and airy look where curators display works by a singular artist for the duration of the year. Typically, these works are unusual and unexpected, which makes them a nice change of pace from the many classical architectural and artistic landmarks in Edinburgh. Recent hits at the Fruitmarket have included the 2011 celebration of all things narcissistic and an incredible musical staircase created by Martin Creed.
Address: 45 Market St, Edinburgh EH1 1DF
Phone: 0131 225 2383
Edinburgh College of Arts has a strong program, and it is highly competitive for even the most talented of students. To showcase the best works created by student artists, the Edinburgh College of Arts offers free or very low-cost exhibitions throughout the year. In June, the school year culminates in a showcase event featuring all of the works created over the past year. Even when there are no shows currently taking place, the Sculpture Garden is always in place and boasts some impressive, unusual and large contemporary pieces.
Address: University of Edinburgh, 74 Lauriston Pl, Edinburgh, EH3 9DF
Phone: 0131 651 5800
As you might guess, the aptly named gallery Stills is devoted exclusively to photography. Works rotate and are often available for purchase, and weekly openings for new artists offer the opportunity to socialize while you admire the art. Videos are often projected on the walls in large installations, and there is even the possibility to rent film or photography equipment if you feel inspired after a visit to the gallery.
Address: 23 Cockburn St, Edinburgh EH1 1BP
Phone:0131 622 6200