The process of concealing the murals and frieze beneath a sea of white fabric finally got underway and a small team of conservators and conservation technicians exercised their climbing and scaffolding skills. Meanwhile a dedicated group of artists on the floor below transformed the galleries into the grafitti-inspired exhibition Rough Cut Nation for the duration of the Edinburgh Festival.

Working from the scaffolding presented a unique opportunity to examine the technique of these fascinating murals at close quarters and this is perhaps as near as one can imagine to standing in the artist’s shoes more than a century after their creation.

Plans are already underway for the next stage of this project– a major programme of cleaning prior to the re-opening of the building. Not surprisingly, tests carried out this summer revealed that all surfaces (including the spectacular astronomical ceiling) have accumulated a significant layer of surface dirt since the last cleaning campaign in the mid 1980s.

Fundraising will commence shortly in the hope that William Hole’s great scheme will be revealed as a key feature of the ‘new’ Portrait Gallery.