Visual Arts Research Institute Edinburgh (VARIE)

School of Arts, Culture and Environment
University of Edinburgh
20 Chambers Street
Edinburgh EH1 1JZ
Scotland UK

phone +44 131 650 4124
fax +44 131 650 6638

Director: Prof. Dr. Iain Boyd Whyte  
Fondazione Giorgio Cini

Edinburgh College of Art can trace its roots back to 1760, with the establishment of the Trustees Drawing Academy of Edinburgh.  It was renamed the Edinburgh College of Art in 1907, and moved in the same year into the Beaux-Arts building that is still the hub of the institution.  In August 2011 it merged with the University of Edinburgh, which itself was founded in 1582.

VARIE (Visual Arts Research Centre Edinburgh) was founded in 1999 as a bridge between the then independent College of Art and the University.  With the 2011 merger, this function became redundant, and VARIE was incorporated into History of Art in the new ECA, which is now home to one of the UK’s longest-established and largest groups of art and architectural historians, totaling some 30 scholars, all of whom are research active.  This group enjoys close links with the studio practice of both art and film, with an eminent school of music, with a large department of architecture, and with the renowned Talbot Rice Gallery, the University’s contemporary art space, which also administers the University’s research collections of over 1,200 artworks.  The depth of the ECA’s expertise in modern and contemporary art is reflected in the Artist Rooms Research Partnership, collaboration with Tate Modern and National Galleries of Scotland.  The ECA hosts the highly respected online journal Art in Translation, which makes texts written in a variety of languages accessible to English language researchers and explores wider questions around multilingual visual cultures. The current editor of the journal Art History is also one of the art history team.

History of Art at Edinburgh has a remarkable range of specialist research expertise, from non-Western art (China, the Islamic World, Japan, India) to medieval, renaissance, early modern, modern and contemporary art.  It enjoys strong working relationships with major galleries, museums and collections in the UK and beyond, and is committed to the development of partnerships beyond the academy. Notable recent collaborations include Beauty By Design, which engages the fashion industry in an exploration of body image, and Rome Across Time and Space, a project with historians, philologists and humanities scholars in the UK and Italy.  History of Art at the ECA has organized many international conferences, and in 2016 will host the national Association of Art Historians Conference.