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Amplified tour. To book a free place contact the Information Desk on 0131 624 6560 or email informationdesk@nationalgalleries.org

The historian Thomas Carlyle, the author of On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History, presented his theory of the importance of individuals in shaping history. He was an active, positive force in the establishment of the National Portrait Gallery in London and in Edinburgh. The ‘Great Man’ view of history has been challenged and is largely abandoned, but the idea of individual hero figures and role models continues to inform society and our ideas of identity and nationhood.

This exhibition re-examines some major Scottish figures, from Thomas Carlyle to Andrew Carnegie, raises questions about the nature of hero-worship and the values that were upheld by our Victorian forebears, and considers the influence exerted by military men, scientists and inventors who helped shape the modern world. Women artists, scientists, writers and suffragists provide a strong female presence, and Queen Victoria’s personal influence on the age over which she presided institutionally is examined.

Venue discount information
Admission is free. A charge may be made for special exhibitions.
Exhibition run
On now until 31 May 2019

Venue Hearing System

Type of Hearing System
Conversor Pro fm portable loop system. Available for small group tours.
Hearing System Collection Point
varies with event

How to Book

National Galleries of Scotland
Organiser Phone:
0131 624 6560
Organiser Email:
Organiser Website:


Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Phone number:
0131 624 6200
Venue website:

Visit venue web page for access information

Contact for access information:
communities@nationalgalleries.org or call 0131 624 6560

Euan's Guide web page for Scottish National Portrait Gallery

More venue information