History of the National Galleries of Scotland

1850-1900

1850

On 30 August, Prince Albert lays the foundation stone of the National Gallery, giving a moving speech in which he hails the William Henry Playfair-designed building as a "temple erected to the Fine Arts". The building will stand next to the Royal Scottish Academy Building (then the Royal Institution), also designed by Playfair and headquarters for the Board of Manufacturers since 1822.

1857

William Henry Playfair dies on 19 March.

1859

An evening reception on 24 March heralds the completion and opening to the public of the National Gallery of Scotland. The building is shared by the National Gallery and the Royal Scottish Academy.

1882

The National Gallery's collection of pictures, as well as public and political appetite for a permanent record of Scots achievement, grows to such an extent that the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is founded. Much of the campaigning and fundraising is undertaken by the local newspaper proprietor, John Ritchie Findlay.

1889

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery opens to the public.