Ongoing Updates - The Scottish National Gallery project

To keep you in the loop on the Scottish National Gallery project, here you'll find all the latest news  on the construction work around the Mound Precinct and East Princes Street Gardens.  

The work in East Princes Street Gardens is part of a wider redevelopment to create a new world-class set of galleries to better showcase our amazingly rich collection of historic Scottish art. The new accessible path will also greatly help those with mobility impairments, wheelchairs and prams. 

Five reasons why we are redeveloping the Scottish National Gallery

An update on timescales

7 February 2020

Construction is continuing on the Scottish National Gallery project to create new, world-class galleries to house the national collection of historic Scottish art.

The first phase of the Scottish National Gallery Project was completed successfully in 2019. This included the new Gardens entrance area, a beautifully refurbished café, restaurant and shop, and new landscaping and paths in East Princes Street Gardens to improve access to the gardens and the Galleries.

Work is now on-going on the next phase, to convert areas originally built in the 1970s into the new suite of galleries, alongside newly created spaces.

Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland, John Leighton, said:

“In the course of this work it has become apparent that there are some unexpected defects within the 1970s building which sits beneath the original nineteenth-century National Gallery. These include issues with damp penetration and inadequate drainage in and around the site. We are now addressing these issues to ensure that the building is fully protected and safeguarded for the future, so that it can better withstand any future extremes of weather.

In order to accommodate this extra work we have therefore revised our timescales for the project. We are now aiming to complete works on the new Gardens Level Galleries by the end of 2021, when we will be showcasing a brand new-space for our fantastic collection of Scottish art.

In the meantime, the Scottish National Gallery remains fully open to the public who can also enjoy the new restaurant, café and much larger shop. Disruption to visitors and the public during this construction phase will be kept to a minimum.

We look forward to unveiling our exciting new galleries which will be home to the world’s greatest collection of Scottish art, including some works that will be displayed for the very first time.”

Find out the latest about our plans to build fantastic new galleries for the nation's collection of Scottish art as part of the Scottish National Gallery Project. 

Our statement on this year’s Christmas Market in East Princes Street Gardens

01 November 2019

We’d like to respond to some of your comments and concerns around the Christmas Market in East Princes Street Gardens this year, which we know has provoked many strong reactions.

We would like to make it very clear that the new landscaping and accessible paths were not in any way designed to facilitate an expansion of the Christmas markets.

This plan was intended to make it much easier for everyone to travel through the gardens and also to access the Scottish National Gallery, as was stated in our initial planning application approved in 2016, and our revised application approved in 2018.  

To clarify, the Council manage and maintain the land in East Princes Street Gardens on behalf of the city, and they also own the top layer of the land on the Mound Precinct. The structure and location of the Christmas markets is a decision entirely between the Council and their contractor, Underbelly.

At the heart of why we are developing the Scottish National Gallery is because we are passionate about the power of art and we want to ensure every generation can enjoy Scotland’s collection of art.


The Scottish National Gallery's Gardens Entrance has reopened

2nd October 2019

The redevelopment of the Scottish National Gallery has reached another exciting milestone with the re-opening of the East Princes Street Gardens Entrance and refurbished Gallery shop.   

This entrance offers direct access from the terrace in East Princes Street Gardens into the new concourse, extended Gallery shop and The Scottish Cafe & Restaurant. It also leads to the Royal Scottish Academy exhibition spaces, toilets, lockers and information desk. 

Once construction of the new gallery spaces is completed in 2021, the Gardens entrance will become the main point of entry for the Scottish National Gallery, offering instant access to the Scottish collection as well as more convenient routes to the rest of the building as a whole.

As part of our redevelopment to create a new home for our unrivalled collection of Scottish art, we want to ensure that the galleries and the gardens are available for everyone. We created an accessible path to greatly help those with mobility impairments, prams or pushchairs travel more easily through the gardens.

Work is currently taking place to install a new lift at the south end of the Gallery, and once this opens, along with the new gallery space, the Scottish National Gallery will be transformed into a much more accessible space for all.

In the meantime, experience for yourself the seasonal Scottish food at the restaurant, browse in the shop for exclusive National Galleries of Scotland gifts, and view the extensive collection of art on display at the Scottish National Gallery.

Turf is now in place in the Gardens

29 August 2019

We have completed the laying of the turf on the lower section of East Princes Street Gardens. Protective barriers are currently in place to ensure the grass settles in.

We are co-ordinating with the City of Edinburgh Council to open this section as soon as possible.

Turf in the lower section of East Princes Street Gardens

22nd August 2019

We have begun the preparations for laying the turf in the lower section of East Princes Street Gardens, which we hope to complete over the course of next week depending on the weather. We’d like to take this time to apologise to everyone in Edinburgh for the delay, but due to the heavy rain, we needed to wait until the ground was less saturated.

The grass will require protection for several weeks to ensure it settles in, and we will co-ordinate with the Council’s park department as to when the area can be used.

Opening of accessible path

2nd August 2019

This afternoon we opened our new accessible path in East Princes Street Gardens. Thanks for bearing with us while we carried out this work. Temporary barriers are in place to protect the grass seeding, and the turf in the lower section will be laid in the coming weeks.

We want to thank everyone who lives or works in Edinburgh for your patience while we carried out this work in East Princes Street Gardens and the Mound precinct, as part of our redevelopment of the Scottish National Gallery. 

The path was designed to make it much easier for those with mobility issues, prams and pushchairs to move through the gardens. We have temporary fencing in place to protect the grass while it is established.

Opening of the Mound Precinct

19th July 2019

We’re happy to announce that we’ve reopened the Mound Precinct and the top path in East Princes Street Gardens today. The public are now able to use these with immediate effect. We are finalising work to the accessible path and lower gardens, which we aim to complete soon.

Thanks to everyone for your patience while we carry out this work to make East Princes Street Gardens accessible for all.

Welcome to our new café, Espresso

4th July 2019

We are pleased to announce that our new café in the foyer of the Mound entrance of the Scottish National Gallery has officially opened.

Espresso, operated by Contini, will offer a quick counter service for coffees, cakes and light snacks.

The finishing touches to the interiors were completed at the end of June, with a bronze and taupe colour scheme to enhance Playfair’s A-listed gallery building.

23 August 2019