Edinburgh’s City Art Centre boasts a collection as diverse and ever-changing as the city itself, so you can never predict what will find its way out of the archives and onto display. In the past, its six floors have hosted everything from ancient Egyptian artefacts to star wars costumes, and that eclectic spirit is channeled into their latest semi-permanent project: The A to Z of Edinburgh.
Spanning three floors, the collection is a whistlestop tour through Scotland’s history, told through everything from board games to ballgowns. No distinction is made between high art and pop culture, allowing the viewer an immersive experience in which they can create much of the meaning themselves. Even the kids get can get involved, with a huge room dedicated to art supplies and worksheets, drawing from the most child-friendly exhibits.
Though the constraints of the letter by letter format can sometimes feel a bit tenuous, with “E” standing for “Earliest Edinburgh”, it spawns ingenuity in equal parts. For example, the difficult “X” is taken up with a charming kiss-themed display wherein Victorian love letters and lesbian cake toppers are given equal precedence. Best of all, you can reward yourself for climbing the many stairs with a cup of tea and a slice of lemon cake in the cafe, all for just over a fiver!