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New completion date

National Galleries extension delayed for two years

Watch fly-through of new extension

Completion of rebuilding work at the Scottish National Gallery has been further delayed until the end of 2022 and is likely to push up the cost of the project.

The latest phase is already nearly four years late and under a revised timetable was due to open early next year. The current budget of £22m also exceeds the initial cost projection of £16.8m.

Building defects in the 1970s building beneath the gallery were discovered in February, including damp penetration and inadequate drainage in and around the site.

A commitment was made to address these issues to ensure the building is fully protected and safeguarded for the future.  

Lockdown restrictions have added to the slower pace of progress to create a new space for the collection of Scottish art.

Scottish National Gallery

New look for galleries

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, Sir John Leighton, said:  “We always knew that the Scottish National Gallery Project would be a complex endeavour, but that never diminished our desire to deliver the new space that our visitors deserve.

“Working underground on a World Heritage Site that comprises an iconic nineteenth-century building with modern additions from the 1970s located above one of Edinburgh’s busiest train tunnels is, of course, challenging.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has added a further layer of complexity, with the closure of the site during lockdown and now the introduction of measures to accommodate social distancing. Any associated additional costs are being worked through diligently.

“While we recognise this delay may be disappointing, we also want to stress that the wait will be worth it.

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“We will deliver a world-class facility for showing Scotland’s distinctive artistic heritage in a whole new light, and at a time when we all hope the COVID-19 pandemic will be receding.

“We intend for our new galleries to be a focal point for cultural renewal, a place to discover the joy and wonder that art can bring to us all.”  

The first phase of the Scottish National Gallery Project was completed successfully in 2019. This included a new entrance area in East Princes Street Gardens, a new café, refurbished restaurant and shop, an extensive sandstone terrace, and new landscaping and paths to improve access to the gardens and the Galleries. 



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