Five reasons why we are redeveloping the Scottish National Gallery

It’s a really exciting time for the National Galleries of Scotland as we carry out an ambitious new redevelopment project to transform our gallery spaces in the Scottish National Gallery.

Maybe you’ve been wondering what’s been happening in East Princes Street Gardens and the Mound, and why there are some changes during your visit because of construction work? To keep you in the loop, here are five aims of our project.

1. To showcase Scotland’s art in a whole new light

We are creating amazing new galleries in former office and storage space within the Scottish National Gallery complex. These will completely transform the way we present the world’s greatest collection of Scottish art, so that as many people as possible can enjoy and share in Scotland’s heritage. The previous Scottish galleries didn't give the paintings the environment they deserved. 

By early 2021 we’ll be ready to reveal our new galleries, bursting with light and colour, and with fantastic views onto East Princes Street Gardens.  

Here, you will be able to step into Scotland’s art history. As well as our well-loved classics like the Skating Minister, and the works of pioneering Scottish artists like Allan Ramsay and Sir David Wilkie, we will also showcase masterpieces by Anne Redpath, Sir Henry Raeburn, the Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists.

And because our Scottish artists will sit alongside our wider European collection, you’ll be able to appreciate the rich colour of Italian Renaissance paintings by artists such as Raphael and Titian, alongside the embroideries of Phoebe Anna Traquair.

2. To make the entrance more accessible

As part of our redevelopment, we want to ensure that the galleries are accessible to all. So we have carried out work in East Princes Street Gardens to create an accessible path, which will greatly help those with mobility impairments, prams or pushchairs. Without this new path, the east gardens would remain accessible only via steep gradients or the flight of steps. Our new landscaping will create a dynamic space in the gardens where people can sit and enjoy the views.

Visitor numbers at the Scottish National Gallery have surged, almost doubling in the past ten years, which is overwhelming for the Mound entrance. Our gardens entrance will therefore provide direct access to the world’s largest collection of Scottish art when the new galleries open.

3. Proudly showcasing Scotland’s art for everyone to enjoy

We’re creating an exciting new space in the heart of the city, which is for everyone. We want to ensure that the widest number of people enjoy our art and activities, and as part of this we are planning future activities to open up access to everyone, including sketching, tours and talks, and dedicated family days once a week.

Art has been proven to transform lives by supporting health and wellbeing, expression of thoughts and social skills. We want to encourage people to spend time in our beautiful new galleries, whether that’s soaking in the art and culture, using our free Wi-Fi or picking up our sketch pads and pencils to give art a try.

4. To connect the inside with the outside

Our new galleries will be a beautiful space for all, where we will connect the inside with the outside, and where visitors can view Scotland’s art collection in the heart of a World Heritage Site.

You’ll be able to look out onto a real, natural world and appreciate the stunning Scottish landscapes painted out in the open by the Glasgow Boys, a group of radical young painters who were influenced by Naturalism to create contemporary depictions of rural life.

The design features big windows to fully appreciate the indoor space, and where you can look out onto the world heritage site and Princes Street Gardens. The landscape inspired the works of the artists who lived in Edinburgh and depicted the city in their paintings.

5. Creating a better visitor experience

As part of our ambitious plans, we are also refurbishing our Scottish Café and Restaurant and our Gallery shop. They will help to enhance the galleries as a great destination for visitors and tourists, who will be able to enjoy views of the gardens from the terrace.

What's more, the shop will showcase the works of Scottish artists, and the restaurant will use produce from Scottish suppliers to create a dynamic, sustainable and delicious menu.

And remember…

We’re still open and there’s lots to see.  The Scottish National Gallery is free for visitors, and displays some of the greatest art in the world, including masterpieces by Botticelli, Raphael, Turner, Monet, Van Gogh and Gauguin. You can also experience the major names in the history of Scottish painting, including Ramsay, Raeburn, Wilkie and McTaggart.

At times sections of the building will be temporarily inaccessible to allow refurbishment. But we are working hard to ensure that disruption is minimal, to allow visitors to enjoy the collections on show

So thanks for your patience while we complete this work.

18 June 2019