National Gallery revamp to inspire new-look gardens

An artist's impression of the Scottish National Gallery extension
An artist's impression of the Scottish National Gallery extension
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A MULTI-MILLION pound extension to the Scottish National Gallery is set to open in just over three years after the Heritage Lottery Fund confirmed its backing for the project.

Almost £5m has been set aside for the scheme, which will transform the way the nation’s Scottish art collection is displayed in the Capital.

Work on the overhaul of the gallery, which dates back to 1859, is expected to begin next year, provided MSPs approve the transfer of a parcel of land from the city council and planning permission for the ambitious project is secured.

Images from award-­winning Glasgow architect Gareth Hoskins, who was appointed to produce a vision for the project last year, show a new open-air terrace and landscaped grass steps in East Princes Street ­Gardens.

New views will be created from modern exhibition spaces, which will be linked to the existing foyer, cafe and ­restaurant below The Mound.

The £15.3m project, due to be completed in the summer of 2018, will see the south-eastern part of the building extended by five metres, bringing it into line with an underground ­extension of the gallery that was completed in 2004.

The National Galleries of ­Scotland predicts the project will “transform the entire visitor experience” and fully realise the potential of “the world’s most important collection of Scottish art”.

The project is expected to roughly triple the amount of space devoted to work by the likes of Sir Henry Raeburn, ­William McTaggart, Sir David Wilkie, Alexander Nasmyth and Allan Ramsay.

Key aims include attracting more visitors into the gallery from the gardens themselves and improving the circulation of people around the ­existing building.

Colin McLean, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, which has approved in principle a grant of £4.94m, said: “This collection of art is one of Scotland’s most precious ­­belongings. It has the potential to delight, inspire and inform audiences from Scotland and across the world.”

Gallery director Michael Clarke said: “As holders of the world’s foremost collection of Scottish art, our focus has always been on showing its significance and making it accessible to as wide a public as possible.”