Collections to get new space

Gallery revamp will remove ’embarrassing’ art rooms

Artist's impression of extension (Hoskins Architects)
Artist’s impression of extension (Hoskins Architects)

More space for hidden treasures

A £16.8million revamp of the Scotland National Gallery will give greater prominence to a neglected collection of the nation’s art, it was claimed today.

Sir John Leighton, director-general, National Galleries of Scotland, said the development would transform the lower floors housing Scottish art from an “institutional embarrassment” and give them proper exposure to international visitors.

Only 18% of the 1.4 million annual visitors to the gallery in the heart of the city’s heritage site currently make their way to the collection in this part of the building which was commended when it was built in the 1970s.

“It won several awards, including ‘concrete construction of the year’,” he joked. “In recent years these spaces have become something of an institutional embarrassment, cramped dingy and have an unpleasant subterranean atmosphere.”

He said the plan would open up the gallery, enabling visitors to walk straight into the collection from the side entrance.

The lower floor – which had become known as the B wing – has now closed and “soon will be no more”.

John Leighton briefing media on the plans (photo: Terry Murden)
John Leighton briefing media on the plans (photo: Terry Murden)

The work will be completed by spring 2019 and Tricia Allerston, deputy director, Scottish National Gallery, said it would allow for some works rarely exhibited to be shown.

“Visitors expect to see some of the works we have, such as the Scottish colourists,” she said.

Ben Thomson, chairman of the Trustees, National Galleries of Scotland, added: “We are really excited about this project. It will be the first time we can showcase this art properly.”

> View the plans on video here


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