Revamp of cultural venues

The Old City Observatory will become the base for The Collective Gallery

The Old City Observatory will become the base for The Collective Gallery

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MUSEUMS and galleries in the heart of Edinburgh are to be overhauled as part of a blueprint to raise the profile of the Capital’s world city of literature status.

Unused buildings will be brought back to life as cultural spaces and familiar venues revamped under the city council masterplan.

The Old City Observatory on Calton Hill will become the new base for The Collective Gallery, relocating from its long-time home in Cockburn Street. The gallery hopes to move into the Playfair-designed landmark in time for next year’s Festival.

The Tron Kirk is set to become a heritage and cultural centre within the next four years, and will be run as a bar in the short-term.

The 15th century Trinity Apse in Chalmers Close, off the High Street, could become a performing arts space or literary centre.

Office space above the Writers’ Museum off the 
Lawnmarket will be refurbished as an upmarket apartment for authors and poets for study and research breaks.

The Museum of Childhood in the High Street is to get a £400,000 refurbishment in a bid to boost visitor numbers above 220,000.

And the City Art Centre in Market Street, the council’s main public gallery, will get a new permanent display area for works currently held in storage.

The first phase of a long-term transformation of the Central Library on George IV Bridge will see the Bongo Club relocate there from Holyrood Road from January.

Council leaders say there has been a concerted effort to make more use of the city’s assets by generating interest from commercial operators and arts organisations.

Frank Little, the council’s museums manager, said: “Some projects, like the new gallery and storage space at the City Art Centre, which will allow the venue to remain open all year for the first time, are happening over the next few months. Others, like the longer-term ambitions for the Tron Kirk and the refurbishment of the Museum of Childhood, are likely to take several years.”

David Hicks, marketing manager for Edinburgh World Heritage, said: “We are working closely in collaboration with the museums service to revitalise historic buildings across the World Heritage Site.”