New Scottish Galleries at the National Opening 30 September

Monday, September 25, 2023
New Scottish Galleries at the National Opening 30 September

Scottish galleries at the National will open to the public on 30 September 2023. The new spaces will be home to key works from the nation’s historic Scottish art collection, offering more than double the physical display space and transforming the visitor experience.

With ten displays in the new galleries, and new trails and activities on offer, everyone can look forward to experiencing the national collection of historic Scottish art like never before.

The vision for the project has been driven by an ambition to ensure that the greatest number of people can enjoy key works that tell the fascinating story of Scottish art. The new fully accessible galleries will be entered directly from the adjoining East Princes Street Gardens and are free for all to explore. Large windows will offer spectacular views over the city, enticing visitors to come in and discover the work of pioneering Scottish artists such as William McTaggart, Anne Redpath, Phoebe Anna Traquair, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Boys.

Scotland’s artistic legacy will be brought to life through much-loved Scottish Colourist paintings among other major works from the first half of the twentieth century. New ways of looking at Scotland’s built and natural environments will be on offer, with early photographs of Scotland’s capital city shown in the same spaces as grand paintings of majestic Highland landscapes. Reimagined displays of drawings and sketches will celebrate artists such as Glasgow Style pioneer Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh and David Allan, whose depictions of ‘Edinburgh Characters’ will allow visitors to get up close to street life in the Scottish capital in the late eighteenth century.

The new Scottish galleries at the National include ten galleries at Gardens level and will be home to over 130 works of art. These bright, attractive spaces will showcase the magnificent collection of Scottish art in a series of new and engaging presentations. With even more to explore across the entire National, there will also be five new international hangs at the Mound level this summer, plus two additional Scottish displays, offering over 460 artworks to discover. This includes three areas specifically designed to display drawings and other fragile artworks that will regularly change throughout the year, increasing the overall offering at the National.

The construction of the new galleries was one of the most complex engineering projects undertaken in a heritage building in Scotland; working within the constraints of a World Heritage site, above railways tunnels and excavating beneath a category-A listed building. Several issues were discovered when the 1970s building was fully stripped back to its core concrete structure. These included multiple instances of undocumented asbestos deposits which required safe removal; damp and water ingress issues which substantially changed the extent of the waterproofing requirements and undocumented obstructions including remnants from previous developments, which added significant complexity to the building work. Deeply buried layers of dense concrete had to be extracted, impacting on the sequencing of the works while managing the unique complexity of the engineering works. All these challenges were successfully overcome to create generous, high-quality new spaces for the world’s most important collection of historic Scottish art.

The total project cost is £38.62 million. This has been funded by major contributions from the Scottish Government (£15.25m) and The National Lottery Heritage Fund (£6.89 million). An extremely successful fundraising campaign raised over £16m thanks to an extraordinarily generous response in donations from trusts, foundations, Patrons, the National Galleries of Scotland’s Friends organisation, American Patrons and a wide range of private individuals.

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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