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The National Galleries of Scotland Is Digitizing Its 94,000-Piece Collection

Since the start of this month, about 40,000 images of works are available on the relaunched NGS website.

F.C.B. Cadell, “Still Life (The Grey Fan)” (ca. 1920–25) (photo by Antonia Reeve; all images courtesy National Galleries of Scotland)

If you don’t know when you’ll next visit Edinburgh, you can at least start exploring its major art collections immediately, including works in storage. The National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) — which comprise the Scottish National Gallery, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery — has relaunched its website to showcase its entire national art trove. Since the start of this month, about 40,000 images of works have been digitized along with their details; the remaining objects in the about 95,000-strong catalogue will gradually join them over the course of the next five years.

Elizabeth Blackadder, “Cats and Flowers” (1980) (© The Estate of Dame Elizabeth Blackadder. All Rights Reserved 2016/ Bridgeman Images)

NGS, of course, doesn’t only own Scottish art, but it does hold the world’s most significant collection of historic Scottish art. The digital platform makes accessible the premier resources to learn more about Scottish artists, who often don’t receive as much attention as their fellow European counterparts.

Built-in filters make it easy to explore these collections, allowing you to whittle down searches by artists, subjects, centuries, object types, galleries, and even colors. You can focus on schools, styles, and movements of the region, such as the Edinburgh School, the Glasgow Girls (and Boys), and the Celtic Revival, or even dig into artworks related to Scottish literature. For a broader primer on Scottish art, you can also simply filter by nationality. There are plenty of Eduardo Paolozzis and Douglas Gordons to behold, but also so many lesser-known figures to discover — all right at your fingertips.

The launch coincides with the Scottish National Gallery’s project “Celebrating Scotland’s Art,” which will create three times more space in its gallery complex to publicly display the institution’s unparalleled reserve of Scottish art. So perhaps one day, when you do find yourself in Edinburgh, you’ll see many, many more of these digital works in person.

John Duncan, “Saint Bride” (1913) (photo by Antonia Reeve)
Arthur Melville, “A Cabbage Garden” (1877) (photo by Antonia Reeve)
F.C.B. Cadell, “Portrait of a Lady in Black” (ca. 1921) (photo by Antonia Reeve)
Alexander Hutchison, “St. Kilda” (1890) (photo by Antonia Reeve)
Edith Tudor-Hart, “Untitled [Children receiving light treatment]” (ca. 1935)
Eduardo Paolozzi, “Vulcan” (1998–99) (© Trustees of the Paolozzi Foundation, Licensed by DACS 2016)
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