Ruined | Reinventing Scottish History

On now until Sun 9 Jan 2022

Open daily, 10am-5pm
Closed 25 and 26 December
Open at noon on 1 January

Admission free | Advance booking recommended


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RUINED was created over the last four years by young Scots re-inventing Scottish history - imaginatively mashing-up works from the National Galleries of Scotland collection. In the exhibition, visitors will witness shocking events and ghosts from Scotland’s past, as they enter a time machine in which multiple video projections flicker across a set of ruins. It's anarchy! False heroes and heroines, wicked tyrants and bloodied martyrs, the angry mob, hard borders, sad religions and unwatchable violence - all alive and kicking in the ruins of this Scottish fantasy.

The young people on the Image Liberation Force project, who were attending employability training courses, have rediscovered themselves - cracked and creaky - in the ruins of the Scottish past. They have invested their imaginations in historic paintings depicting epic events and powerful personalities ... and brought them to life. Their story is told by their very own ‘bard’, Edinburgh music producer and rapper Mercurius MC, who spares none in his visceral address to reshaping Scotland’s story.

Play Flashback, a new game inspired by the Ruined exhibition

Image Liberation Force is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of Celebrating Scotland’s Art: the Scottish National Gallery Project.

This exhibition may not be suitable for all visitors, including children, because the works shown include swearing and explore difficult subjects such as violence and suicide. It also includes flashing images.

Event highlights

Exhibition trailer

Mercurius MC and Big Tam were filmed at the monument to the great eighteenth century pastoral poet, Allan Ramsay, near Penicuick. Mercurius takes on the mantle of another Scotland's greatest poets, Robert Burns, and matches him for his heart, his soul and his contemporary Scots tongue.


Gallery facilities

A full accessibility guide is available at www.accessibilityguides.org.

We provide a sensory map of the building to help visitors identify areas with changes in light, smells and noise. It locates seating areas and less crowded, quieter spaces. Printed copies are available from the front desk at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

  • Information desk
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair access
  • Wheelchairs available
  • Lockers (£1/£2)
  • Baby changing facilities
  • Buggy park
  • Seating throughout
  • Bike rack
  • Accessible toilets for gallery visitors
  • Toilets for gallery visitors

Getting here

Located in the city centre on Queen Street, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is easy to access.

  • Open daily, 10am-5pm<br> Closed 25 and 26 December<br> Open at noon on 1 January
1 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JD



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Friends of the Galleries get free unlimited entry to all exhibitions, and enjoy a wide range of exclusive benefits including early exhibition access, special events and 10% discount in our cafes.

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