Opening pushed back

National Galleries project delayed by ‘unexpected defects’

Scottish National Gallery

The new gallery will not be fully open until the end of next year

A £22 million project to revamp the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh will be further delayed after “unexpected defects” were discovered in the building.

A need to remove asbestos and resolve damp penetration, found in a 1970s extension, will push back the opening of the remodelled building into late next year.

The first phase of the project to build a new gallery for the collection of Scottish art was completed last year with a new entrance level with East Princes Street Gardens, a refurbished café, restaurant and shop, and new landscaping and paths in East Princes Street Gardens.

However, work on the next phase, already three years late, is now forecast to open early next year. The work will also exceed the initial cost projection of £16.8m.

The project was delayed for several months in March 2017 after the National Galleries of Scotland announced that some aspects of the construction, namely the proposal to build out by an additional five metres into East Princes Street Gardens, were more complex and expensive than originally anticipated.

A revised scheme for the development unveiled two months later scrapped the extension into East Princes Street Gardens and pushed back the entire project a year for further design work.

Director-general of the National Galleries of Scotland, John Leighton, explained: “In the course of this work it has become apparent that there are some unexpected defects within the 1970s building which sits beneath the original nineteenth-century National Gallery. These include issues with damp penetration and inadequate drainage in and around the site.

“We are now addressing these issues to ensure that the building is fully protected and safeguarded for the future, so that it can better withstand any future extremes of weather.

“In order to accommodate this extra work we have therefore revised our timescales for the project. We are now aiming to complete works on the new Gardens Level Galleries by the end of 2021, when we will be showcasing a brand new space for our fantastic collection of Scottish art.

“In the meantime, the Scottish National Gallery remains fully open to the public who can also enjoy the new restaurant, café and much larger shop. Disruption to visitors and the public during this construction phase will be kept to a minimum.

“We look forward to unveiling our exciting new galleries which will be home to the world’s greatest collection of Scottish art, including some works that will be displayed for the very first time.”

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