Connected to the Scottish National Gallery by underground passageway, the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) presents temporary exhibitions of contemporary Scottish art and architecture. Inside the 19th-century Doric-style building, galleries host exhibits ranging from the work of recent graduates from Scotland’s top art colleges to pieces by eminent artists.
The RSA’s vast gallery spaces showcase visual arts of all mediums, from paintings and sculptures to photography, installations, prints, and film. The work of RSA members is often on show in the Academicians’ Gallery. Emerging graduate talent is spotlighted during the RSA New Contemporaries exhibition, while artists from all around Scotland are represented in the popular RSA Annual Exhibition. Tours of the RSA are self-guided.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Royal Scottish Academy is a must-see for art and architecture enthusiasts.
- Combine a visit here with a trip to the adjoining National Scottish Gallery.
- The RSA is accessible to wheelchair users. Disabled access is via the rear of the building or via the National Gallery of Scotland’s Weston Link complex.
How to Get There
The RSA is located on the Mound, at the boundary between Edinburgh Old Town and New Town. To get there, ride the tram to Princes Street or any Princes Street bus. Edinburgh Waverley, the nearest train station, is just a 5-minute walk away.
When to Get There
The best time to visit is during the RSA Annual Exhibition, which typically takes place in May or June. The annual exhibition is popular and can draw large crowds, especially on weekends. Get there early in the day to avoid the midday rush.
An Architectural Landmark
Built by acclaimed architect William Henry Playfair in the early 19th century, the Royal Scottish Academy, originally known as the Royal Institution, is one of Edinburgh’s most prominent neoclassical buildings. The imposing colonnaded exterior is topped by a pediment, upon which stands a statue of Queen Victoria.