Pensioner blasts National Gallery over lift being out of use

Janice Johnson, 70, is wanting a refund for her National Galleries of Scotland annual membership.
Janice Johnson, 70, is wanting a refund for her National Galleries of Scotland annual membership.
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A disabled woman is appalled that she is being denied access to all areas of the Scottish National Gallery due to the lift being out of order since November.

Janice Johnson was bought a £40 membership to the galleries as a 70th birthday present and has been a keen visitor to many exhibitions on The Mound since March last year.

The Bonnington pensioner has arthritis which restricts her mobility, meaning she gets around usually in a wheelchair or mobility scooter.

In November she discovered the lift of the historic building was out of use meaning she was unable to visit the exhibitions on the upper floors.

Two months later the problem still persists, with Mrs Johnson vowing to write to bosses in order to claim a refund.

She told the Evening News: “I’ve been there in person and asked over the phone and I’ve not been given a date as to when it will be fixed.

“It doesn’t give a great impression of the city and it isn’t good enough. I’m being denied access. I really am appalled. I can’t walk up stairs and I’m in a mobility scooter or wheelchair at times. Even people with young children and a buggy are going to struggle as well as other disabled people.

“This is in the middle of Princes Street and there will be plenty of tourists over this time who will not have been able to experience the galleries.”

The National Galleries of Scotland has apologised for the lack of lift accessibility which is down to the £22 million revamp work that started yesterday.

The East Princes Street Gardens entrance to the gallery complex will be closed until Spring to accommodate work both inside and outside the complex.

Part of the works involve the installation of a much larger lift and stairwell at the south end of the Galleries. During this time there will be no lift access to some rooms showing 18th, 19th and early 20th century art.

A spokesperson for the National Galleries of Scotland said: “The Scottish National Gallery is undergoing a major redevelopment as part of a project to create brand new, light-filled spaces for the Gallery’s unrivalled collection of Scottish art. We apologise that people with mobility issues have been affected by the construction works and separate lift maintenance.

“Unfortunately due to the redevelopment works there is no lift access to three rooms where we show 18th, 19th and early 20th Century art and occasionally our other lifts do experience problems which we rectify as quickly as possible.

“On completion the redevelopment project will greatly improve accessibility into the Gallery for those with mobility problems, prams or pushchairs. However, we are very aware that as it is a very complex project in a historic, Grade A listed building, some galleries and areas must be temporarily closed or affected as work progresses through the building.

“We publish planned access changes on our website so that visitors have advance notice and would ask that the individual gets in touch with us by calling 0131 624 6200.”