January 2019 will bring the next steps in the redevelopment project of the Scottish National Gallery (SNG) in Edinburgh with work starting in East Princes Street Gardens and continuing inside the Galleries
The £22m redevelopment project, which will create a new home for the world’s greatest collection of Scottish art, began in October 2018. It will transform former office, storage and display spaces into a new set of galleries that, for the first time, will be entered directly from the adjacent East Princes Street Gardens. The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Scottish Government.
As part of the work in this phase of the redevelopment project, which is due to last until spring 2019, public access in and around East Princes Street Gardens and the Mound precinct will change. During this period the Gardens entrance to the SNG will be closed; visitors will instead use the entrances on The Mound.
Work starts on the new landscaping which includes the widening of existing steps and the construction of a new accessible path in the Gardens, which will help those with mobility impairments, wheelchairs and prams.
The Galleries’ plans, which were approved after a lengthy consultation with City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) and other bodies, address the long-standing inadequacy of accessible routes in this area; without this new path, the East Gardens would remain accessible only via steep gradients or stairs.
As part of the works an accessible toilet on the Mound precinct will be removed, and the NGS will join the CEC’s community toilet scheme. The nearby accessible toilet facilities are open to the public without having to visit the Gallery itself.
During this phase of work there will also be 22 new trees in East Princes Street Gardens with species chosen to complement existing trees in the wider gardens. These trees will be between 4.5 metres and 6 metres in height. They will replace 52 trees removed in autumn 2018 to enable the reshaping of an embankment that is necessary for the new accessible path.
The main Gallery shop and The Scottish Café & Restaurant will also temporarily close until spring 2019. Alternative facilities – including a souvenir shop inside the Gallery and the shop on Princes Street will be available as normal – as well as a new Espresso café opening at the SNG entrance on the Mound in early 2019.
Due to start in this phase of the redevelopment project is the installation of a much larger lift and stairwell at the south end of the SNG, which will connect with the new gallery spaces and radically improve the way the whole building is accessed by visitors. While construction work continues on the stairwell, there will be some temporary disruption with no lift access to some rooms where we show 18th, 19th and early 20th Century Art, including Scottish Art, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism.
Sir John Leighton, Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland, said: “It has 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.”