Connect with us


National Galleries of Scotland Unveils Ambitious 2025 Programme



National Galleries of Scotland Unveils Ambitious 2025 Programme

The National Galleries of Scotland has announced a spectacular array of exhibitions for 2025, set to take over the National, Portrait, and Modern galleries in Edinburgh. This diverse programme, featuring both free and ticketed events, should prove a highlight of the Scottish cultural calendar, with something for art lovers, and the art curious, of all ages.

Anne Lyden, Director-General at the National Galleries of Scotland is excited. “We’re really excited to announce our 2025 public programme,” she says, “which is packed full of fantastic exhibitions. Breathtaking installations at the Royal Scottish Academy, soaring above the clouds at the Portrait Gallery, and modern and contemporary highlights from your national collection at the Moderns.

Whether you want to be inspired, find a moment of calm or share a joyful experience with friends – there’s so much to discover at the National Galleries of Scotland.”

So what’s coming up?

(L-R) Alfred G. Buckham, Aerial View of Edinburgh, about 1920. National Galleries of Scotland. Purchased 1990. © Richard and John Buckham. 

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), Edinburgh from below Arthur’s Seat, 1801.Watercolour, graphite and gouache on off-white wove paper. NGI.2410. National Gallery of Ireland Collection. Image, National Gallery of Ireland. 

Andy Goldsworthy. Rain shadow. RSA, Edinburgh, Scotland. 10 June 2024. Courtesy of the Artist.  

Andy Goldsworthy: Fifty Years

From 26 July until 2 November 2025, the Royal Scottish Academy will host “Andy Goldsworthy: Fifty Years.” This major exhibition will take over the upper and lower galleries, offering an immersive experience of Goldsworthy’s work. Born in 1956 and based in Scotland, Goldsworthy is renowned for his work with natural materials. The exhibition will span five decades of his career, showcasing over 200 pieces including photographs, sculptures, and expansive new installations.

Goldsworthy will also create several major new works onsite at the Royal Scottish Academy. If you find yourself wondering how did he make that? you can turn up and watch him at work. “This spectacular summer exhibition is sure to be one of the most talked-about of the year,” remarked Lyden. “And it is showing only in Edinburgh.”

The World of King James VI and I

Next spring, visitors to the Portrait Gallery will be able to travel back in time with “The World of King James VI and I.” Running from 26 April to 14 September 2025, this exhibition marks the 400-year anniversary of King James’s death. As the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, and successor to Elizabeth I, King James (1566-1625) was the first monarch to rule over Scotland, England, and Ireland. The exhibition will explore his life and reign through over 100 objects, including ornate paintings, dazzling jewels, lavish designs, and significant loans from galleries across the UK.

The exhibition aims to chart King James’s remarkable reign through themes of friendship, family, feuds, and ambition. It also touches on contemporary issues such as national identity, queer history, and spirituality. From the sounds and smells of the period to the visual art from the 16th and 17th centuries, this immersive experience will attempt to connect the people of the past with those of today. Tickets are already on sale, ranging from £4 to £9.

Turner in January: The Vaughan Bequest from the National Gallery of Ireland

In January, the National Galleries of Scotland will commemorate the 250th birthday of JMW Turner with a unique exhibition of his works. “Turner in January: The Vaughan Bequest” will be on display from 1 to 31 January 2025 at the Royal Scottish Academy. This exhibition will feature over 30 Turner watercolours from the National Gallery of Ireland, marking a special collaboration between the two institutions.

The Vaughan Bequest includes some of Turner’s most celebrated pieces, spanning the breadth of his career. Visitors can expect to see sweeping seascapes, dramatic landscapes, and spectacular city scenes, many displayed in their original frames. It’s free, and will doubtless prove a hugely popular exhibition, such is Turner’s enduring fame.


Modern One will host “ARTIST ROOMS,” opening on 12 July 2025. This exhibition will feature a series of new displays showcasing magnificent and diverse works of 20th and 21st-century art from the ARTIST ROOMS collection, cared for jointly by the National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. This collection includes works by some of the most influential artists of our time, providing a rich and varied experience for visitors.

This exhibition will offer a unique opportunity to see compelling works from the nation’s superb contemporary and modern collections. As part of the ongoing partnership with Tate, the ARTIST ROOMS programme continues to bring world-class art to Scotland, supported by the Art Fund, Henry Moore Foundation, and public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and Creative Scotland.

Ian Hamilton Finlay Centenary Exhibition

Modern Two will celebrate the centenary of the revered Scottish artist Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006) with a new free display running from 8 March to 26 May 2025. Finlay was a visionary artist known for his work across a range of media, including poetry, sculpture, printmaking, and gardening. He’s long been one my favourite artists, and I’m only sorry my time as an arts journalist began years after he passed away. I’m not aware of any Scottish artist past or present with a better sense of humour or instinct for the accessible.

The exhibition will feature over 30 sculptures, installations, and prints, as well as extensive archival materials, all drawn from Scotland’s national collection. Finlay’s collaborative approach and his ability to harness the expertise of fellow makers and creators will be highlighted, showcasing his influence and legacy in the art world.

Alfred Buckham: Daredevil Photographer

From 18 October 2025 to 19 April 2026, the Portrait Gallery will host “Alfred Buckham: Daredevil Photographer.” This exhibition will delve into the remarkable life and work of Alfred Buckham (1879-1956), a pioneering figure in aerial photography and aviation.

Buckham’s daring approach to capturing images from above the clouds pushed the boundaries of what was possible in the early 20th century. The exhibition will showcase some of his most iconic aerial photographs, exploring the death-defying lengths he went to in order to capture the perfect shot. It will also examine how his innovative techniques paved the way for modern technologies such as Photoshop and AI. This free exhibition promises to be a thrilling journey into the skies through Buckham’s lens.

Your Art World

The “Your Art World” exhibition, running from 10 May to 2 November 2025 at the National Gallery, will showcase the creative talents of young people from across Scotland. This exhibition celebrates the imaginative potential of young artists aged 3 to 18, featuring installations from school and community groups who have worked alongside the National Galleries of Scotland.

The gallery is also inviting digital submissions from young artists, with the opportunity for their work to be displayed on screens within the exhibition. “The exhibition is a celebration of what happens when young people are encouraged to be wildly creative,” promises the gallery. This initiative aims to inspire and nurture the next generation of artists, offering a platform for their creativity.

Supporters and Partnerships

In these fraught days of funding scrutiny, readers might be interested to know where the funds to mount this impressive lineup have been sourced. So far as I’m aware no one is presently campaigning against anybody involved.

The 2025 programme is supported by various organizations and partnerships. “Turner in January: The Vaughan Bequest from the National Gallery of Ireland” is created in partnership with the National Gallery of Ireland and supported by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery and Sir Ewan and Lady Christine Brown. “Andy Goldsworthy: Fifty Years” is supported by the Friends of the National Galleries of Scotland. “Alfred Buckham: Daredevil Photographer” also benefits from the support of the players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

The ARTIST ROOMS programme and collection are managed by Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland with support from the Art Fund, Henry Moore Foundation, and public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and Creative Scotland. The founding collection was established through The d’Offay Donation in 2008 with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund, and the Scottish and British Governments.

About the National Galleries of Scotland

The National Galleries of Scotland encompasses three galleries in Edinburgh: the National, Modern, and Portrait. These institutions house and care for Scotland’s world-class art collection, featuring treasures from centuries past to the very best of modern and contemporary art. Visitors can explore a vast range of artworks, from historic masterpieces to contemporary portraits of pop culture icons, and enjoy the world’s greatest collection of Scottish art.

Anne Lyden sums up the galleries’ ethos: “We’re a space for thinking, dreaming, doing, and playing. Soak up the art. Meet friends in the cafés. Have a family picnic surrounded by the sculptures in the Modern grounds. Be inspired by our amazing art films. Choose your own experience. There is no one way to enjoy Scotland’s national collection. We are yours to discover.”

Exhibition Listings

  • Turner in January: The Vaughan Bequest from the National Gallery of Ireland
  • 1 – 31 January 2025 | FREE | Royal Scottish Academy building
  • Ian Hamilton Finlay:
  • 8 March – 26 May 2025 | FREE | Modern Two
  • The World of King James VI and I:
  • 26 April – 14 September 2025 | Tickets £4-£9 | Portrait Gallery
  • Your Art World:
  • 10 May – 2 November 2025 | FREE | National Gallery
  • Opening 12 July 2025 | FREE | Modern One
  • Andy Goldsworthy: Fifty Years:
  • 26 July – 2 November 2025 | Tickets £5-£19 | Royal Scottish Academy building
  • Alfred Buckham: Daredevil Photographer:
  • 18 October 2025 – 19 April 2026 | FREE | Portrait Gallery

For more information, go to

Continue Reading