What's in the collections

National Library of Scotland (NLS) collections recommended for learning audiences.

Art and architecture
Holdings of 18th- and 19th-century artists include letters and papers of Allan Ramsay the Younger, Sir Henry Raeburn, Sir David Wilkie and, especially, David Roberts. Modern collections include papers of:

  • Sculptors Pittendrigh MacGillivray, Pilkington Jackson and Sir Eduardo Paolozzi
  • Painters Sir William Mactaggart, Sir William O Hutchison and William Johnstone
  • Art administrator T J Honeyman.

Cultural organisations and theatre archives
The great modern renaissance of Scottish cultural activities is reflected in large deposits of archives we hold from:

  • The Saltire Society
  • The Scottish Arts Council
  • The Edinburgh International Festival Society
  • The Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Film / moving image
The Scottish Screen Archive is Scotland's national moving image collection. It houses more than 32,000 films and videos presenting over 100 years of Scotland's history, and you can view more than 1,000 clips and films online.

This section provides a historical background and general information on various music-related materials that we hold.

Trades and crafts
From the records of businesses to the personal archives of craftsmen and women, Scotland's rich heritage of traditional and modern crafts is well represented in the Library's holdings.

The flourishing post-Second World War craft industry in Scotland is documented in the records of the Scottish Crafts Centre. These are supplemented by the personal papers of craftsmen such as contemporary potters and weavers.

Visual arts
Material relating to:

  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Architecture
  • Sculpture.

We also hold a collection of artist books and exhibition catalogues. Find out more on the Artists' books pages.

Our manuscript department holds the papers of Scottish artists including large collections from:

  • Sir Henry Raeburn
  • Sir David Wilkie
  • David Roberts
  • Alasdair Gray
  • Iain Hamilton Finlay.

Find out more on the Manuscripts Collections pages.

Useful for teachers researching artists/ artists' movements or students carrying out their independent research.

Curriculum Areas: Art and Design (Standard Grade, Higher, Advanced Higher)


Creativity main page

Library video guides

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Watch our video guides to find out how to access National Library of Scotland resources from home, school or in person.

The ideas factory

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Plan the story you want to tell before you start writing it. Go to 'The ideas factory'

Themes in focus

Drawing of Alasdair Gray

Learn about the creative processes used by Scottish writer and artist Alasdair Gray.

Library favourites

Sally Harrower

An introduction to the 7:84 Scotland Company theatre archive. Watch video

Library learning for you

If there's a topic you'd like more information about, or if you have any suggestions for learning, email us.

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