Celebrating Scotland's Art

Celebrating Scotland’s Art is a major project to improve and expand the Scottish National Gallery. The project will create three times more space in which to see the Gallery’s unrivalled collection of Scottish art. The project will also make this art more accessible, and will make it much easier to get around the entire Scottish National Gallery complex, including a bigger, brighter entrance from East Princes Street Gardens.

Scotland's Art

The National Galleries of Scotland has the world’s most important collection of historic Scottish art, and includes major works by key artists including Sir Henry Raeburn, Allan Ramsay, Sir David Wilkie, William McTaggart, Phoebe Anna Traquair and The Glasgow Boys.

In addition to historic works, on completion of the project the Scottish National Gallery will also display relevant modern masterpieces previously displayed at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, such as key works by the Scottish Colourists.

F.C.B. Cadell, Portrait of a Lady in Black

Past

The Scottish National Gallery is situated right in the heart of Edinburgh. It comprises in part of two buildings, both designed by the celebrated Scottish architect William Henry Playfair (1790-1857). Historically, these two buildings were known as the National Gallery of Scotland and the Royal Scottish Academy. Although the two buildings were originally built as two separate structures, their histories have long been intertwined, and since 2004 they have been physically joined by an underground link directly accessible from East Princes Street Gardens.

Sir David Young Cameron, The Royal Scottish Academy Building and the National Gallery of Scotland

In recent years the Gallery’s collection of Scottish art has been displayed in a specially-designated extension that opened in 1978. There is currently no direct access to these rooms from the Gardens Entrance that has been the central hub of the Gallery complex since 2004, and the rooms are no longer suitable for displaying such an important collection of Scottish art.

Present

The Lower Level of the Gallery building (rooms B1-B7) is now closed to the public until completion of the project in 2019. These rooms will be undergoing major refurbishment to expand and improve the spaces devoted to Scottish art, the first phase of which is to remove the artworks hanging here. Many of these artworks will be temporarily redisplayed elsewhere within the Gallery building.

Scottish National Gallery - Gallery Entrance, copyright Keith Hunter

Other rooms on the Ground Level (rooms 2-13) and the Upper Level South (rooms 14-18) will, on occasion, be closed temporarily, to allow for the re-hanging of works from the Lower Level.

Later in 2016, and early in 2017, other rooms will close to the public; specifically, rooms 1, 8, 15, and 16. Details relating to these later room closures will be available here in the future.

Where can I now find Scottish art at the Scottish National Gallery? 
Highlights from the Gallery’s collection of Scottish art will be hung alongside European masterpieces on the Ground and Upper Levels of the Gallery Building.

Are the shops and cafes still open? 
Yes. All the Gallery shops and cafes are currently open and can be accessed as usual.

Can I access the Gallery from East Princes Street Gardens now? 
Yes. All Entrances are currently open as usual.

Future

Celebrating Scotland’s Art will proudly promote Scotland’s art, dramatically improve the way in which it is displayed, and have brand new, custom-design spaces that will devote three times more room to Scotland's art. These spaces will be instantly accessible from the Gardens Entrance. Scottish art will take centre stage and enjoy the space and prominence it deserves alongside the international historic art on display elsewhere in the Scottish National Gallery.

The entire Gallery complex will become simpler and easier to get around. Once inside, the glass-fronted entrance of the Scottish art spaces will make this vital part of the collection more visible than ever.  

Design Team's long view of the new Scottish Art spaces
Design Team's view of the introductory space leading into the new Scottish Galleries

The Gardens Entrance will not only provide direct access to these spaces, it will also be completely reconfigured. Both the main Gallery shop and the café/restaurant area will become bigger and brighter. And there will be a grand, new staircase leading up to the Ground Level, where the international art is on show.