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Next stage of galleries transformation under way

The work will create new space to show the rich collection of Scottish art


Work has begun on the next stage of the £22 million redevelopment of the Scottish National Gallery (SNG) in Edinburgh.

The project, which will create a new home for the world’s greatest collection of Scottish art, began in October and will transform former office, storage and display spaces into a new set of galleries that, for the first time, will be entered directly from the adjacent East Princes Street Gardens.

They will showcase the National Galleries of Scotland’s rich collection of Scottish art, which contains masterpieces by Henry Raeburn, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Scottish colourists as well as giving direct access to the rest of the SNG’s international collection. The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Scottish Government.

From mid-January, work begins on the new landscaping which includes the widening of existing steps and the construction of a new accessible path in the Gardens, which will help those with mobility impairments, wheelchairs and prams.

The Galleries’ plans, which were approved after a lengthy consultation with council and other bodies, address the long-standing inadequacy of accessible routes in this area; without this new path, the East Gardens would remain accessible only via steep gradients or stairs.

The NGS will plant 22 trees in East Princes Street Gardens with species chosen to complement existing trees in the wider gardens. These will be between 4.5 metres and 6 metres in height. They will replace 52 trees controversially removed in the autumn to enable the reshaping of an embankment that the NGS says is necessary for the new path.

The main Gallery shop and The Scottish Café & Restaurant will also temporarily close until spring. Alternative facilities – including a souvenir shop inside the Gallery and the shop on Princes Street will be available as normal – as well as a new Espresso café opening at the SNG entrance on the Mound.

Sir John Leighton: great benefits (photo by Terry Murden DB Media Services)


Sir John Leighton, director-general of the National Galleries of Scotland, said: “It has been very exciting over the autumn to see work on this transformational project get started, and as we move out of winter and into spring we’re looking forward to some of our first milestones becoming a reality.

“Landscaping will start shortly and by the spring our new accessible route into Princes Street Gardens will be complete and our restaurant and enlarged shop will reopen to welcome the public.

“We have two years to go before opening, but we hope that as this year progresses people will already begin to feel the great benefits of the work we are doing here.”

Dr Tricia Allerston, Co-Director, Scottish National Gallery Project, added: “We draw around 2.5 million visitors each year to our Edinburgh-based galleries, and our ambitious plans for the Scottish National Gallery will ensure we continue to meet the needs and expectations of all.

“With this once-in-a-lifetime project, we will transform the way we show the world’s greatest collection of historic Scottish art, both in the new, light-filled, state-of-the-art display spaces and in the innovative way we will be showcasing the work of Scottish artists alongside our wider international collection.”

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