The Scottish National Portrait Gallery stands on Queen Street in Edinburgh. The gallery opened to the public in 1889 as the first purpose-built portrait gallery in the world. It is home to Scotland's national collection of portraits and the national photography collection. The building is a grand, neo-gothic building in red sandstone designed by Sir Robert Rowan Anderson.
We welcome all visitors and we aim to provide the best possible access to everyone in order that they enjoy their visit to the gallery.
Please get in touch if you require any further information or would like help with planning your visit.
There is level access from the main entrance to:Contemporary GalleryGreat HallInformation DeskGround Floor Accessible ToiletCafe PortraitGallery ShopThe Farmer Education Suite (for pre-booked groups)A K Bell Room (for pre-booked groups)Level 1 (East Side) - Rooms 11 and 12Level 1 - AmbulatoryLevel 1 (West Side) - Library & Print Room and The Robert Mapplethorpe Photography GalleryLevel 2 (East Side) - Rooms 1 -4Level 2 (centre) - Rooms 5 and 6Level 2 (West Side) - Rooms 7-10Mezzanine Level - Education Groups Lunchroom (pre-booked groups)
Getting hereFor further information on accessible travel in Scotland, go to Transport Scotland.
Travel by public transport
Travel by taxi
Our Gallery Bus takes visitors to all three of the National Gallery venues. The timetable is published in the visit section of the website.
Starting at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art the bus runs a circular route to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Scottish National Gallery. A voluntary donation of £1 is requested. The bus drops off, but does not pick up at the Portrait Gallery, the drop off point is the North side of St Andrew Square. This is 0.1 miles from the Portrait Gallery.
Path to main entrance
A member of front of house staff is permanently stationed at the entrance to welcome and open the doors for all visitors.
Getting around inside
Visual Impairment - General Information
Lift to all floors
Ticket/ information desk
There is bench seating near this area. The area is well and evenly lit. Staff are ready to assist and answer enquiries.
Pen, paper and magnifying glass are provided at the desk
Things to See and Do
There is a changing programme of exhibitions and displays in this area. There are occassionally films displayed in this area with sound and captions.There is seating in this area. This area has low lighting.
The Great Hall is on the ground floor at the centre of the gallery. It comprises a large open area in the centre with stone pillars round the outside. Flooring in this area is stone. Seating is available in this area. Light levels can be low depending on the time of day and the weather.
There are entrances to the Great Hall on three sides. The entrance to the Great Hall leading directly from the front door is via double doors, staff are available to assist with opening these, doorways on East and West sides are kept open.
Overlooking the Great Hall, there is an ambulatory (walk-way) running round all four sides which is accessed from the first floor.
Ground Floor Accessible Toilet
There are horizontal grab rails located to the left and right of the toilet. There is a vertical grab rail located to the left of the toilet. There is a sink with grab rails on either side. Different areas and facilities in the space are painted in contrasting colours to differentiate between them and make them more visible. There are baby changing facilities within this toilet.
The Gallery Shop occupies a small space on the ground floor. Merchandise is displayed on shelves up to a height of 1800mm. Staff are available to customers who require assistance to navigate between fixtures throughout the shop. There is no background music playing.
There is also a Balcony Bookshop on the ambulatory on the first floor. Access to the ambulatory is via the lift, the narrowest part of the route from the lift is 840mm. The occupies a larger space than the ground floor shop and has an unobstructed route at least 800mm wide for wheelchair users to move around. The area is well-lit by large windows. Merchandise is displayed on shelves up to a height of 1800mm. Staff are available to to assist customers. There is no background music playing.
Place to eat and drink
Cafe Portrait comprises a large, open main seating area and a smaller, more enclosed area called 'The Snug' which may be quieter. There are two entrances to the cafe, one entrance leads from the front door, past the shop and into the seating area, this is 1400mm wide. The other entrance is from the Great Hall leading straight to the food counter, the door is 1200mm.
The nearest accessible toilet is the ground floor accessible toilet located on the oposite side of the Great Hall.
While table service is not available, staff are happy to carry trays on request.
The Farmer Education Suite (for pre-booked groups)
The Farmer Education Suite is for the use of groups who have pre-booked a visit. It is a large, flexible learning space. The space is well-lit throughout by spotlights in the ceiling and large windows. There are two lower sink areas. There are tea and coffee-making facilities. The room has wifi and there is a projector and screen. The space is furnished with tables and chairs (with no arms). When booking in advance, groups may request the use of portable hearing loops, wheelchair loans, and a limited number of portable chairs with arms. The nearest accessible toilet is located next door.
A K Bell Room (for pre-booked groups)
The A K Bell room is available for hire and occassionally for the use of groups who have pre-booked a guided visit. It is lit by ceiling spotlights. It is a flexible space furnished with tables and chairs (no arms). It has an interactive whiteboard.
Level 1 (East Side) - Rooms 11 and 12
Rooms 11 and 12 are large, well-lit spaces with permanent seating at intervals. The flooring in this area is wood. The narrowest point in these rooms is 1700mm. There are changing displays of work in this area.
Level 1 - Ambulatory
The ambulatory is a walkway that runs round the upper part of the Great Hall on all four sides. There is a metal and wood railing on the sides that overlook the Great Hall. The flooring in this area is stone. Seating is available throughout this area. Light levels can be low depending on the time of day and the weather.
There is a second shop on the ambulatory. This occupies a larger space than the ground floor shop and has an unobstructed route at least 800mm wide for wheelchair users to move around. The area is well-lit by large windows. Merchandise is displayed on shelves up to a height of 1800mm. Staff are available to to assist customers. There is no background music playing.
Level 1 (West Side) - Library & Print Room and The Robert Mapplethorpe Photography Gallery
Access from the lift to the West side of the gallery on level 1 is via the Ambulatory. The door to the Library is 1220mm and the door to the Photography Gallery is 1230mm.
The Library is well-lit and has a wooden floor. There is seating and a wooden table with display materials in the centre of the room. There are books, display cabinets and drawers around the walls. The drawers are low and can be opened by visitors.
The Photography Gallery is well-lit. It has a wooden floor and has seating throughout.
Level 2 (East Side) - Rooms 1 -4
The door to Room 1 is 1260mm. The room is well-lit and there is seating throughout. The flooring is wood.
The door to Room 2 is 1230mm. The room has low lighting, there is no seating. The flooring is wood.
There are two entrances to Room 3. One entrance is from Room 2, the door is 830mm. The other entrance is from Room 4, the door is 1230mm. The room has low lighting, there is no seating. The flooring is wood.
The entrance to Room 4 is from the lift. The room is well-lit and there is seating throughout. The flooring is wood.
Level 2 (centre) - Rooms 5 and 6
There are two entrances to Galleries 5 and 6. One entrance is from lift area/Gallery 4, the door is 1270mm. The other entrance is from Gallery 1/ staircase landing, the door is 1260mm. This area is large, open and well-lit. There is seating in this area. The flooring is wood.
Level 2 (West Side) - Rooms 7-10
There are two entrances to Room 7. The door leading from Room 6 is 1340mm. The door leading from Room 5/ stairway landing is 1270mm. The room is well-lit and there is seating throughout. The flooring is wood.
The door to Room 8 is 1280mm. There is a slight ramp at the doorway. The room has low lighting, there is no seating. The flooring is wood.
There are two entrances to Room 9. One entrance is from Room 8, the entrance is 1050mm. The other entrance is from Room 10, the door is 1230mm. The room has low lighting, there is no seating. The flooring is wood.
The entrance to Room 10 is from Gallery 5/ stairway landing. The door is 1310mm. The room is well-lit and there is seating throughout. The flooring is wood.
Mezzanine Level - Education Groups Lunchroom (pre-booked groups)
The Education Groups Lunchroom is for the use of groups who have pre-booked a visit and are bringing a packed lunch. It is accessed via a lift and an accompanying member of gallery staff must be present. It is a long narrow space with benches and tables - gallery staff can assist to move these as necessary. There are no sinks and no access to drinking water. The space is well-lit throughout by strip lights. The nearest accessible toilet is located on the ground floor next to the lift.
Getting around outside
Customer care support
There is permanent seating throughout the gallery. We also provide portable stools which are situated on racks on every floor of the gallery.
Portable hearing loops are available at all public talks and lectures and for booked group visits. We also have monthly amplified tours for visitors with hearing loss.
We welcome assistance dogs and can provide water bowls for them. Please ask staff for assistance.
We can provide pen, paper and a magnifying glass at the information desk.
The area outside the Farmer Education Suite can be used for charging a mobility scooter or battery powered wheelchair. Please ask staff for assistance.
Emergency evacuation procedures
In case of an evacuation, gallery staff will assist all visitors. There are dedicated temporary waiting areas within each gallery. Gallery staff will assist those who require help to those areas, and wait with them until the emergency services arrive. Gallery staff are trained in the use of Evac chairs which can be used for evacuation of upper floors to assist those who cannot use the stairs.
Customer care support
The Portrait Gallery received special recognition from Alzheimer Scotland as a dementia friendly venue. The majority of front of house staff have recieved training in dementia awareness. Most front of house staff have recieved training in visual impairment awareness from RNIB Scotland.
All events can be found in the What's On section of our website: www.nationalgalleries.org/whats-on
Information on group visits can be found in the Visit section of our website: www.nationalgalleries.org/visit/groups-tours-workshops
We have regular amplified tours using portable hearing loops for visitors with hearing loss. Portable hearing loops are available for all talks and tours, simply ask member of staff on arrival.
We have regular Deaf-led tours in British Sign Language (BSL) and regular family tours with British Sign Language interpretation.
We have regular tour and workshop sessions for visitors with visual impairments.
We run early-openings featuring creative, sensory activities at the Portrait Gallery for families affected by autism spectrum disorder.
We have a regular programme of tours, concerts and special events for visitors living with dementia.
Community and access groups are invited to book free guided or self-guided visits all year round. This includes free entry to all paying exhibitions. We also offer a free programme of dementia-friendly workshops.