Every major city has great galleries, and every country has its national gallery with a few key pieces of major international art of different periods. So it can seem a bit of a cliché to say go visit the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh, but the thing is that national galleries do tell you a lot about the country especially if they have a good national collection. Nestled below the cliffs of the Edinburgh Castle, the National Gallery of Scotland and its connected gallery the Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture combine to take you on a journey through the history of art right up to the contemporary. Both have impressive collections, and excellent changing exhibitions.
The RSA was recently renovated and is now a fully modern gallery housed within its neo-classical 1826 building. Its main charter has always been to its members and to Scottish art and architecture, so in its collection is at least one piece representing the work of each member of the Academy over the years. In addition, the Academy has a particular interest in providing a broad view of Scottish art from 1760 to the present. This is the place to go to see how Scots view the world. This summer the National Gallery has an exhibition of work by Durer and a portrait exhibition leading up to the reopening post-renovation of the Scottish Portrait Gallery in Autumn. Slightly further afield is the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, two linked galleries set in a park of modern sculpture and sculptural landscaping. The collection ranges from Matisse and Picasso to Dada and Surrealism, to current art stars Damian Hirst and Tracey Emin.