Work to overhaul part of Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh will get under way today.
A new film has been launched revealing the extent of changes coming at one of the Capital’s flagship visitor attractions.
The £22 million revamp of the Scottish National Gallery has been dogged by controversy in recent years due to soaring costs, delays in construction work getting under way and the impact on long-standing trees in the historic park.
The East Princes Street Gardens entrance to the gallery complex will be closed for several months to accommodate work both inside and outside complex. The project recently had to be scaled back and is running at least three years late.
A large swathe of the gardens will be re-landscaped by the spring to create a new “accessible” zig-zag sloping pathway suitable for wheelchairs and prams, while work inside the building will carry on for more than two years.
Officials have confirmed that 22 new trees will be planted within the next few weeks to replace the 52 trees which were controversially chopped down before the Christmas festival as part of the preparatory work in the area where the new embankment will be created.
A two-minute video was today released by the National Galleries showing how the gardens and the gallery will be transformed by the project. It will see the creation of the first new exhibition spaces to house some of Scotland’s most important works of art in more than 30 years, which visitors will be able to access direct from the gardens. They will also be able to view works by the likes of Allan Ramsay, Sir Henry Raeburn, Alexander Nasmyth, Anne Redpath and Phoebe Anna Traquair while enjoying new views looking out onto the gardens.
Visitors will not be able to access the building from the gardens until later in the spring. The gallery shop, cafe and restaurant will also be closed for the next few months.
The project is being partly bankrolled by the Scottish Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Sir John Leighton, director-general of the National Galleries, said: “It’s been very exciting over the autumn to see work on this transformational project get started, and as we move out of winter and into spring we’re looking forward to some of our first milestones becoming a reality.
“Unavoidably, there will be some disruption around the site over the coming weeks. We’re grateful for the public’s patience while we create these improvements to the galleries and the surrounding space.”
Dr Tricia Allerston, co-director of the Scottish National Gallery, said: “We draw around 2.5 million visitors each year to our Edinburgh-based galleries, and our ambitious plans for the Scottish National Gallery will ensure we continue to meet the needs and expectations of all.
With this once-in-a-lifetime project, we will transform the way we show the world’s greatest collection of historic Scottish art.”