The archives form one of the most important resources for the study of Scottish art and artists since the early 19th century.

They document the activities of the Academy as it sought to establish a school of Scottish art, improve the teaching of Scottish artists through its Life School and scholarship and awards programme and create a world class Annual Exhibition. The archives are a documented memory of the Academy’s artists and activities and form a picture of the Scottish art world through the eyes of the artists themselves.

In addition to institutional archives they include significant holdings of artist’s personal archives, such as those of Anne Redpath, Henry Snell Gamley and Otto Leyde. Also of note are select archives of other institutions such as the Society of Artists in Edinburgh (1808-1812), the Aesthetics Club (1851), the Smashers Club (1848-60s) and the Hospitalfield Trust. The archives are a particularly rich source of 19th century catalogues, some of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

The archives contain minute books and registers, letters and correspondence, newspaper cuttings, artists’ papers and ephemera. Also of note is a diverse collection of archival photography, ranging from member’s portraits to hanging committees and exhibition installs.