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Fitness / Practicalities
Tour Director

  • Explore Scottish art - from Sir Henry Raeburn to the Scottish Colourists and Glasgow Boys - with visits to important collections including the superb new permanent galleries devoted to the country’s art at the Scottish National Gallery

  • Visit Dundee, home to the impressive waterfront V&A Dundee and fascinating McManus Gallery

  • Delve into less well-known sites, from the Kirkcaldy Galleries to Dovecot Studios, a world renowned tapestry studio and landmark centre for contemporary art, craft and design

“Sarah Burles was so knowledgeable… She was constantly making sure we were all enjoying the tour. A really excellent tour director”

- ACE customer on a recent tour led by Sarah Burles



This new tour, based in Edinburgh and Dundee, will focus on the arts and crafts of Scotland, exploring both famous galleries and some less well-known sites that showcase the outstanding achievements of Scottish artists and the remarkable collections to be found in Scotland.


2023 saw the highly anticipated opening of new galleries at the Scottish National Gallery, following an ambitious construction project to create a home for the world’s greatest collection of Scottish art. We look forward to viewing works by Sir Henry Raeburn, Sir Edwin Landseer, the Scottish Colourists, William McTaggart and Anne Redpath, amongst many others, displayed in beautiful new spaces.  


The Scottish National Gallery is housed in buildings designed by William Henry Playfair in the heart of Edinburgh, which are also home to the Scottish Academy. Meanwhile, Modern One displays works of modern and contemporary art by major names such as Joan Miró, Henry Moore, Rachel Whitehead and Barbara Hepworth outside, with a superb collection of art ranging from the 1900s to the present day within.

We also hope to take in the special exhibition 'National Treasures: Vermeer in Edinburgh' during our tour. This exhibition is being held as part of the celebrations of the bicentenary of the National Gallery in London, and will involve the exceptional loan of Vermeer's iconic painting A Young Woman Standing at a Virginal to the Scottish National Gallery, where it will be displayed alongside the latter's own early work by the artist, depicting Christ in the House of Martha and Mary


Extending our focus beyond Edinburgh’s capital, we will travel to Dundee via Kirkcaldy. The latter is home to one of the best collections of Scottish art held anywhere; the Kirkcaldy Galleries, once referred to as ‘the Tate Gallery of Scotland’, contain works ranging from still lifes by much-loved Scottish Colourist S J Peploe to landscapes and seascapes by McTaggart and portraits by Fife-born artist Jack Vettriano. The gallery’s first curator was accomplished painter Thomas Corsan Mortan, one of the group of artists known as the Glasgow Boys, and its collection was shaped by local industrialists and philanthropists John Nairn and John Waldegrave Blyth.


En route to Dundee, we will also pay a visit to Kirkcaldy Palace, which boasts magnificent Renaissance architecture and one of Britain’s oldest tennis courts. It was once the residence of Mary, Queen of Scots.


2024 is an exciting time to visit Dundee, which is undergoing a 30 year, £1 billion masterplan, begun in 2001 with the ambition of transforming the city into a new cultural centre, including a regenerated waterfront linked to the city centre. As part of this, a new branch of the Victoria & Albert Museum opened in the city in 2018, providing Scotland with its first dedicated design museum.


Japanese architect Kengo Kuma won the competition to design the new museum, and took his inspiration from the cliff edges of eastern Scotland; the resulting building provides a remarkable new landmark on the city’s waterfront. Our visit will focus particularly on the museum’s architecture, contemplating the role of museums and the arts in urban regeneration projects. We will also delve into the collections, which celebrate Scottish design across the fields of fashion, textiles and theatre. The museum is furthermore home to Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s restored Oak Room, originally commissioned for a Glasgow tea room.


Also to be found in Dundee is the McManus art gallery and museum, featuring a wide range of exhibits giving insights into the city’s past and present, including paintings, artefacts and works of decorative art.


A further focus of our tour will be the achievements of Irish-born artist Phoebe Anna Traquair (1852-1936), who achieved international recognition as an accomplished illustrator, painter and embroiderer in the Arts & Crafts movement in Scotland. During our time in Edinburgh, we will see the murals she created, and enjoy a special guest lecture from Professor Elizabeth Cumming (Edinburgh College of Art), a historian of Scottish art and design whose book on Traquair was published in 2022.


Turning once more to the present day, no exploration of Scottish art would be complete without a visit to Dovecot Studios, a world-renowned tapestry studio in the heart of Edinburgh and a landmark centre for contemporary art, craft and design. Here, we will have the opportunity to delve into the site’s history and working practices, on a special tour of the studio viewed from above.


Our first three nights will be spent at the four-star Malmaison Edinburgh City, located in the heart of the city with glorious views of Edinburgh Castle. We will then spend two nights at the four-star Malmaison Dundee, a smart boutique property ideally situated on the city’s waterfront just opposite the V&A Dundee, before returning to Edinburgh to complete our visits.


Our Tour Director is Sarah Burles, MA, who studied History of Art at Cambridge and gained a Masters at University College London before going on to a career in museum and gallery education. This included 12 years at the Fitzwilliam Museum as well as work in other Cambridge museums. An accredited Arts Society lecturer, Sarah has a passion for making museums and their collections accessible and exploring the lives of the collectors who shaped them.


Tour Director Sarah Burles writes:

“For me some of the art that we will see on this new Scottish tour is personal. My great uncle was a modest collector of works by the Scottish Colourists and it’s thrilling to see some of his paintings now on display at the Scottish National Galleries in Edinburgh and the McManus Museum and Art Gallery in Dundee. Our itinerary includes visits to both galleries where new displays celebrate the quality and breadth of Scottish art. We will also look in depth at the life and work of Phoebe Anna Traquair with visits to two of her stunning mural cycles and enjoy a bespoke tour of Dovecot Studios, the world-renowned tapestry and craft centre.


The tour then takes us to Fife where we will see the work of William McTaggart and Samuel Peploe at the Kirkcaldy Galleries, before arriving in Dundee, the Scottish home of the V&A. The new museum’s architecture dominates the waterfront while inside the galleries celebrate Scottish design and ingenuity. The tour promises to be varied, enlightening and celebratory and I am very much looking forward to sharing the itinerary with ACE customers.”

Tour Code

1 place remaining - please contact the office on 01223 841055 to enquire.

Included: accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, five breakfasts, four dinners with water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.

Not Included: travel insurance, double room for single use supplement £495.

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