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Let Scotland Set the Scene for Your Arty Getaway

Kelvin Grove
Modern Art Gallery

Let Scotland Set the Scene for Your Arty Getaway

story by: House of Travel

There comes a time in every traveller's life when a steady stream of street food, clichéd tourist destinations and boozy nights out on the town start to wear a little bit thin. That's not to say you should eschew these tried and true travelling traditions altogether, but it wouldn't hurt to inject a bit of culture into your next overseas getaway. And what better place to uncover a world of the arts than in breathtakingly beautiful Scotland?

Artwork produced in Scotland and by Scottish artists is eclectic, diverse and truly spectacular, not easily defined by common styles or themes like works elsewhere in art history. This is according to National Galleries Scotland, which details the fascinating history of art in the country since the development of art education schools in the 19th century. For a taste of these works and other culturally rich experiences in the vibrant country, take a look at this guide to your next arty getaway.

Craft trails
Get a glimpse into the wonderful world of arts and crafts in Scotland when you journey along the Orkney Craft Trail, which takes you directly to Craft Trail members' workshops to learn more about their creative work and processes. Chair makers, potters, textile designers, jewellers and artists can all be discovered along the trail, and you can purchase producers' wares directly from their workshops and stores along the way.

The Shetland Craft Trail is another intriguing journey which showcases craftspeople and artists hard at work. Treat yourself to wood, glass, pottery and textile items, or select an original artwork to take home with you. This trail follows no set route, and you can focus on specific geographical areas or artistic areas of interest. 

Art galleries
The aforementioned National Galleries Scotland boasts three major galleries: National, Modern and Portrait. If you can only pick one to visit, head to the Scottish National Gallery for a glimpse at one of the best fine art collections found anywhere on this earth. Located in Edinburgh's heart and with three exhibitions to discover, you'll get the chance to take in 29 displays and a myriad of events - and all for free. Art connoisseurs will relish the chance to see works by Raphael, Van Gogh, Rubens, Monet, Cezzane and more in the flesh, plus there's a dedicated section on Scottish painting that explores the likes of McTaggart, Raeburn and Ramsay. 

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, also in Edinburgh, is ideal for anyone with a passion for contemporary artwork, with sculpture parks showing off an array of fascinating designs. Get a glimpse of 30 displays without paying a cent, or splash out for one of the regular special exhibitions. Roam between the two buildings - Modern One and Modern Two - for a look at modern Scottish art, as well as post-war pieces by Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon and David Hockney. For something truly spectacular, check out Richard Wright's The Stairwell Project, which is a large-scale piece made up of several thousand hand-painted pieces of work. 

Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum houses one of Europe’s great civic collections and is extremely popular both with visitors and the local Glaswegians. It is free to enter and is in a gorgeous architectural building on the banks of the River Kelvin. First opened in 1901, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum now displays 8000 objects across 22 themed galleries including Dutch Old Masters and French Impressionists, Scottish Art, Salvador Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross and much more. They even have a real Spitfire!

No arts tour is complete without a trip to the theatre. Luckily for you, Scotland is abundant with picturesque venues from which you can observe poetry in motion - or, at the very least, a play.

Head along to Edinburgh's King's Theatre for a slice of history and the chance to check out the structure itself, which was built in 1906. These days the venue puts on seasonal shows to delight local and foreign audiences alike, including the Edinburgh International Festival in summer and winter's King's panto.

If you are lucky enough to be in Scotland in summer, head to the Botanic Gardens for Scotland's famous Bard in the Botanics Shakespeare festival.

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