April update on Scottish National Gallery project

East Princes Street Gardens, where a new accessible path and landscaping are being created by the National Galleries of Scotland, and the Mound precinct are scheduled to re-open to the public in time for the start of the 2019 Festival in August.

A refurbished Scottish Cafe & Restaurant, which is housed within the Princes Street Gardens level of the Scottish National Gallery, will also open its doors to customers at the same time.

Find out the latest from our Director General, John Leighton.

The work in East Princes Street Gardens is part of a wider redevelopment project  that will transform former office, storage and display spaces in the Scottish National Gallery into a new world-class set of galleries that, for the first time, will be entered directly from the adjacent East Princes Street Gardens. They will showcase our amazingly rich collection of historic Scottish art, which contains masterpieces by Sir Henry Raeburn, The Glasgow Boys, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Scottish Colourists, as well as giving direct access to the rest of the Scottish National Gallery’s international collection. The project is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Scottish Government.

The new accessible path will greatly help those with mobility impairments, wheelchairs and prams. Without this new path, the east gardens would remain accessible only via steep gradients or the flight of stairs.

The creation of the path and the landscaping has been a complex engineering feat which has taken slightly longer than programmed. The intention was to complete the works by Spring 2019 and our team and contractors have been working very hard to complete the works as close to that as possible.

After the summer the construction works are largely focused on the interior and grounds of the Scottish National Gallery. The public will have access into East Princes Street Gardens and the Mound precinct as normal. To enable excavation works to the galleries directly beneath, the Playfair Steps and walkway, at the rear of the Scottish National Gallery, will continue to be closed for the duration of the building work.

The Edinburgh Marathon in May will still run through East Princes Street Gardens and the Mound precinct as a route will be cleared for them to use. 

As previously announced, 22 trees will be planted around the new accessible path as part of the construction works. These trees will be between 4.5 metres and 6.5 metres in height.

We have also been working closely with Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust and the City of Edinburgh Council on the planting of a further 30 trees in other areas of East Princes Street Gardens, West Princes Street Gardens, Lauriston Castle and Saughton Walled Garden. The Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust and the City of Edinburgh Council Parks department led on the selection and planting of the additional 30 trees.

24 April 2019