Loading Events


Descriptive tour and workshop consisting of a 90 minute tour in the morning, followed by a lunch break and a 2.5 hour practical workshop in the afternoon. Guides, chairs and refreshments will be provided. Please bring a packed lunch.

Free but booking essential.

Among the many incredible objects on display in the library at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is a collection of life and death masks. These objects, on long-term loan from the Anatomical Museum at the University of Edinburgh, are our link to the nineteenth century practice of phrenology.

Phrenology was the study of the skull in relation to personality and behaviour. Phrenologists believed that the brain was made up of different organs or zones, and these zones corresponded to a different attribute like secretiveness and assertiveness.

An abundance of this attribute would manifest itself in a bump on the skull, and phrenologists believed that by analysing these bumps you could determine someone’s personality.

Devised by Franz Joseph Gall and his apprentice Johann Casper Spurzheim in the late eighteenth century, phrenology quickly spread throughout Europe and North America.


Venue discount information
Admission is free. A charge may be made for special exhibitions.

Venue Audio Description System

Venue Audio Description Collection Point
varies with event
Venue Audio Description Information
The galleries offer a monthly artist led tours and practical workshops. The programme offers a descriptive tour of an exhibition with an artist led tour in the afternoon.

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