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Celebrating Scotland’s Art: the Scottish National Gallery Project passes Stage 1 of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s application process

— March 2015

Associated media

The proposed improvements to the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

The National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) has announced that the major redevelopment project for the Scottish National Gallery has passed the first crucial stage of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) application process.

The £15.3 m renovation, entitled ‘Celebrating Scotland’s Art: The Scottish National Gallery Project’ (SNG Project), will triple the Gallery’s exhibition space and radically improve access to its world-class collection of Scottish art. An application to the HLF for £4.94m has now received Stage 1 approval.

This project will mark a fundamental change in the way the Gallery presents historical Scottish art

Designed by the Scottish architect William Henry Playfair (1790–1857) and situated at The Mound in the centre of Edinburgh, the Scottish National Gallery is the most popular UK art gallery outside London, attracting over 1.295 million visitors in 2014.

The ambition is to have the world’s most important collection of Scottish art realize its full potential, thus helping the public understand both the history and impact of Scottish art nationally and internationally.

The new presentation of Scotland’s art will combine a historical narrative, which will range from the 17th to the mid-20th century (including the Scottish Colourists), with dynamic and changing displays drawn from the riches of the collection.

The redevelopment will enhance visitor circulation throughout the Gallery and will take full advantage of advances in digital technology, to extend the reach of the collections to new audiences across the world. The project will also include an extensive programme of activity providing a wide range of opportunities for visitors, including digital, to engage with the Gallery and its collections.

Set to commence in 2016, the project will include the creation of a new landscaped public pathway and terrace, from the Princes St Gardens level, which will increase public access to the different parts of the NGS complex.

Gareth Hoskins Architects (GHA) – one of Scotland’s leading architectural practices – will oversee this major refurbishment. The practice has established its reputation for its design of arts and cultural schemes, and the SNG project follows recent major GHA developments, such as the RIAS Doolan Award-winning redevelopment of the National Museum of Scotland.

During the renovation, the Scottish National Gallery will remain open to the public with access to the spaces not affected by these plans. Construction is planned to commence in 2016, with works expected to be completed in the summer of 2018.

Michael Clarke, Director of the Scottish National Gallery and the Project’s Director, said:
We are thrilled that this proposal has been passed to the next stage by the Heritage Lottery Fund. As holders of the world’s foremost collection of Scottish art, which includes such incomparable artists as Ramsay, Raeburn and Wilkie, our focus has always been on showing its significance and making it accessible to as wide a public as possible. Extending the Gallery space will transform the entire visitor experience.

Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said:
This collection of art is one of Scotland’s most precious belongings. It has the potential to delight, inspire and inform audiences from Scotland and across the world. We are delighted to give our initial support to a project which will allow many more of these outstanding paintings to be displayed and accommodate many more visitors. We look forward to seeing the plans for the transformation of the Scottish collection galleries develop.

See also 'National Galleries of Scotland cross the pond' in Cassone, November 2014

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