Inside new-look Scottish Galleries after £38m renovation

The new space dedicated to Scottish art has been completely redesigned as part of a five-year renovation project.

Some of Scotland’s most famous artworks are being given more prominence after a £38 million overhaul of the National Galleries in Edinburgh. 

The opening of the new Scottish Galleries within the National Galleries on Princes Street marks the end of a long-term renovation project spanning five years. 

The area dedicated to Scottish art has been completely redesigned to make it more attractive and user-friendly. 

It was a challenging project which involved excavating beneath a Category-A listed building and working above the main Edinburgh to Glasgow railway line. 

Sir John Leighton, Director General of National Galleries of Scotland, told STV News: “We’ve done a lot to improve access, with the relandscaping of Princes Street Gardens and creating these lovely new spaces that you can see out, and people can also see in, so it feels more porous and down to earth.” 

Dr Tricia Allerston discusses the King's Quair screen, on display for the first time since the 1960s

The first phase of the major renovation, which involved the creation of a new entrance and cafe, opened in 2019. 

This phase focused on making the most of the National Galleries’ Scottish art collection. 

The new space focuses on art created between 1800 and 1945, displaying more than 100 pioneering pieces – from Landseer’s famous Monarch of the Glen painting, to Phoebe Anna Traquair’s Progress of a Soul embroidery, and the works of the Glasgow Boys and Glasgow Girls. 

The intricate King’s Quair screen is also on display for the first time since the 1960s, after experts carried out painstaking conservation work. 

Dr Tricia Allerston, Chief Curator at the National Galleries, said: “We know people will be intrigued by it.

“It’s a piece of furniture, designed to sit inside it. It tells the story of King James the First of Scotland, and the story unfolds in the work of art.

“We’d like to intrigue people to come along and have a look at it.”

The Scottish Galleries will open to the public on Saturday September 30. Admission is free. 

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