Botanics to shut gallery after 30 years

Inverleith house at Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh.
Inverleith house at Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh.
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For more than three decades, it has been revered as one of the finest contemporary arts venues in the country.

But now, Inverleith House at the Royal Botanic Gardens is facing closure due to growing financial concerns.

Simon Milne, regius keeper for the Botanics, confirmed that the current exhibition, entitled I Still Believe In Miracles – which features some of the most acclaimed pieces displayed in 18th century building over the past 30 years – will be the gallery’s last when it closes this Sunday.

Key gallery staff, however, will be retained, and the Botanics still hopes to attract major arts events to the garden.

Bosses said plans were now being drawn up for the property’s future.

Mr Milne added that the financial burden of supporting the facility was preventing the Botanics from fulfilling its scientific potential.

“We explored several options to keep the gallery running alongside our botanic and horticultural research, but none of them were commercially viable for us to keep this world-renowned garden performing its core function,” he said.

“We’re not completely shutting our doors to the art world, our two permanent staff from the gallery are being retained so that we can preserve our reputation as an arts venue.

“Alternative uses for the house that will be of significant financial gain to the Botanic Gardens are being explored – at the moment we’re still working on a business plan that will reflect this.”

The Georgian building has featured works from artists including Douglas Gordon, Jim Lambie, Richard Wright and Louise Bourgeois, among others, in the past and was the birthplace of the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art in 1960.

A spokeswoman for Creative Scotland, which partly funds the house, said she was “very disappointed” about the move to cease operations at the gallery.

“The importance of the gallery to contemporary visual art and artists in Scotland cannot be understated and its loss will be profoundly felt,” she said.

“We understand the financial pressures that RBGE are under, like other publicly funded organisations, however, we would have hoped that the value that Inverleith House brings to the gardens and to the public as a space for art and creativity could have been better recognised.”