THERE is an old family story, which my mother probably made up, that illustrates my precociousness as an art critic. It has toddler Bruce correctly identifying the subject matter of a piece of abstract art that confused his parents, although as yet unable to read the captioning. Its veracity is unimportant, but the venue where the event may have occurred is Inverleith House in Edinburgh, then the home of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art before it relocated the larger disused John Watsons School in Belford Road. The handsome building in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is certainly the first art gallery I remember visiting, and that is a habit I have never lost, because it has continued to be well worth a regular visit with a dependability that puts other arts venues to shame.

The show that ends tomorrow, just as it has been announced that the house will no longer operate as a home for modern art, is entitled I Still Believe in Miracles and is a retrospective of the past 30 years of exhibitions and the remarkable list of contemporary art talent that has shown there. That title was assuredly curator Paul Nesbitt's way of expressing optimism in the face of the axe he saw swinging towards his remarkable record of work since Creative Scotland decided not to grant the gallery regular funding. If there was no particular outcry in October 2014, when Inverleith House was just one of many companies and organisations who failed to make the cut under the new arrangements, there is now, with well-known artists, critics and commentators, the inevitable online petition and perhaps even the odd precocious toddler, joining in the condemnation of the decision by the RBGE that a contemporary art programme is a luxury beyond horticulture that it can ill-afford. Creative Scotland has itself joined in the hand-wringing, which poses some questions.

The quango's predecessor, the Scottish Arts Council, has an archived website on which you will find Inverleith House praised as "probably the most ideal gallery in Britain". The page also notes that Inverleith House spawned Theatrum Botanicum, a theatre company run by Toby Gough, whose very popular Fringe shows in the gardens included Preacherman, about David Livingstone's quest for the source of the Nile, Children of the Sea with tsunami survivors from Sri Lanka, and an utterly bonkers Macbeth with Dannii Minogue as Lady M.

Not only did this newspaper give Gough a Herald Archangel for his sustained contribution to Festivals Edinburgh, and welcome Ms Minogue to present our awards on another occasion, the exhibitions programme at Inverleith House has been among the most regular recipient of Herald Angel awards for visual art shows in Edinburgh in August over the years. Off the top of my head, I'd mention the Cy Twombly show in 2002, Richard Hamilton's Protest Pictures in 2008 and Joan Mitchell's Landscapes of the Memory in 2010. There may well be others that have not sprung to mind.

On scant resources and often largely through force of personality, Nesbitt has kept Inverleith House at the cutting edge of exhibiting contemporary art long after the National Galleries of Scotland moved elsewhere, and always with a crucial eye to both the horticulture environment in which he operated and the specific attributes of the building itself. Artists of global renown testify to the rewards of making and showing work at Inverleith House. For Scotland to fail to support it now would be utterly shameful.