The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is to undergo a major revamp, a scheme entitled Portrait of a Nation, which will “renovate and rejuvenate” the gallery in a plan that has already gained Â£5.1m from the Scottish Government. The Grade A-listed building in the New Town on Queen Street was erected as the world’s first purpose-built portrait gallery, opening in 1889 after being designed by architect Sir Robert Rowand Anderson, but much of its space remains unused and unseen to the public.The Portrait of the Nation scheme will open up and restore large areas of the building in order to create 50% more gallery space.
A range of new services for visitors, including an education suite, learning centre and improved restaurant and shop, will be joined by new displays and exhibitions and all three floors of the building will be refurbished to better show the body of 30,000 works that is in its collection.
The gallery closes next week, marked by a Farewell Festival on April 4 and 5, and will reopen in 2011 – in the meantime Â£6m needs to be found to complete the redevelopment, while some of its more famous works will be shown in the National Gallery and the Dean Gallery.
A Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grantÂ of Â£4.4 million will go towards the Â£17.6m cost of the project, which aims to double gallery space and visitor numbers.
The renovated building will have a dedicated education suite, auditorium, IT gallery and research centre.
The revamp is expected to take up to two-and-a-half years. The gallery will close on Sunday so the work can begin.
The building which houses Scotland’s national portrait collection opened in 1889, and has been described as an architectural masterpiece.
The renovation project, called Portrait of the Nation, will increase the number of items displayed by 350%, allowing the gallery to display many more of its 30,000 portraits and photographs.