Tucked away on the Orkney Isles, the Pier Art Centre in Stromness is a fantastic way to experience the plentiful art of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland. If you are interested in 20th-century contemporary art by famed British artists like Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson, the Pier Arts Centre is an unmissable attraction on the Isle.
This modern art gallery and museum was established in 1979 as a home for Margaret Gardiner (1904 – 2005) and her collection of British fine art. Margaret was a peace activist and philanthropist who loved art and had formed a sizeable range of contemporary and historical works throughout her life. Today, despite its small size, the Pier Art Centre is considered one of the finest collections in the UK.
We’ll cover the essential details you need to know before you visit, including how to get there, opening times, and the top attractions at the Piers Art Centre. So stick around and learn something fascinating about this prestigious collection!
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Important Details to Know
Take a look at some essential details you should know before you visit this Stromness art centre:
The Pier Arts Centre is a welcoming visitor attraction with a flexible structure to allow anyone to visit their collection. If you’re coming with a large group, it’s best to give notice beforehand so the Island Arts Centre can accommodate you.
The Art Centre includes lift access to all its floors and accessible toilets throughout. Don’t hesitate to contact the Pier Arts Centre ahead of time for additional access requirements.
Pier Arts Centre Open Times
The Pier Arts Centre in Stromness is open between Tuesday and Saturday, with opening times from 10:30 – 17:00. The Art Gallery is closed on Sunday and Monday and may be closed on certain holidays — please check the Pier Arts Centre, Orkney website for more details.
Between 5 June and 14 August, the Art Centre is also open on Mondays.
Access to the Pier Arts Centre is free. You do not need to purchase a ticket to enter.
How to Get There
The far-flung Orkney Isles are more challenging to reach than your average Scottish attraction, but reaching them is purely part of the adventure. Here are the most common ways to reach the Pier Arts Centre in Stromness:
One of the primary ferry routes to Stromness is from Thurso, where North Link Ferries regularly shuttle people to the island town every week. If you are okay with a 20-minute drive, there are routes to Kirkwall from Aberdeen and Wick.
There are multiple flights to Kirkwall Airport from all over Scotland. Flights take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour to reach, depending on where you travel.
From Kirkwall, the Pier Arts Centre is located on Victoria Street, Stromness — a 20-minute drive from the airport.
Attractions to See at Pier Arts Centre
The Pier Arts Centre has a prestigious British art collection in its year-round programme and has cultivated a local artistic community of vibrant local artists. So, from viewing the art collection, chatting with local artists, and learning at the library, here are all the things you can expect to see during your visit to the Pier Arts Centre:
See Works By 20th Century Artists
One of the most enticing reasons to visit the Pier Art Centre in Stromness is the permanent collection of contemporary art. Described by Patrick Heron as “One of the most distinguished and perfect smaller collections of 20th-century art on permanent display anywhere in the world”, this astounding range of British fine art donated by Margaret Gardener is not to be missed!
The permanent collection includes works by Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Alfred Wallis, and Stanley Cursiter, to name a few, as well as local artists.
Learn about the History of Stromness through Art
Discover the fascinating history of Stromness through the local artworks within the Pier Arts Centre. This important collection may not be directly available, but there are options to see past exhibitions through the Centre’s Exhibition Material.
If you want to see a fascinating range of artworks that includes local artists, then the Pier Arts Centre is a focal point for doing so.
Check out the Library and Archive
In addition to ever-changing exhibitions and events at the Pier Arts Centre, this gallery has a valuable library and reference centre that contains reference guides and catalogues. If you’re an aspirational artist, looking at the reference library at the Arts Centre is a fantastic way to brush up on the latest and greatest techniques and historical British artworks from the 20th century.
Take Part in Events
The Pier Arts Centre regularly curates a year-round series of events and activities that are open to local artists and the general public. From formal events, workshops, and previews of upcoming exhibits for the Friends memberships, keep in mind the up-and-coming schedule when you’re visiting the Pier Arts Centre.
There are even events that commemorate the activist and philanthropist Margaret Gardener and the history of the Pier Arts Centre.
More Scottish Galleries to Visit
- Aberdeen Art Gallery
- An Lanntair Arts Centre
- Compass Gallery
- Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries
- Gallery of Modern Art
- Hunterian Art Gallery
- Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
- Jupiter Artland
- Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
- Kirkcudbright Gallery
- McManus Art Gallery
- National Galleries Scotland: Modern
- National Galleries Scotland: National
- National Galleries Scotland: Portrait
- Royal Scottish Academy
- Stills Gallery
- Talbot Rice Gallery
- The Burrell Collection
- The Fruitmarket Gallery