Work on a radical overhaul of the nation’s flagship gallery, which will triple exhibition space for Scotland’s most important art treasures, is set to get underway within months after wining the final backing of the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The £16.8 million project will extend the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh and create a dramatic new entrance from Princes Street Gardens.
The Scottish Parliament gave its backing to be project earlier this year after the National Galleries of Scotland asked for special permission to build out into the historic beauty spot.
READ MORE: Scottish National Gallery set for £5m revamp
The HLF’s £4.94m grant will allow preparatory work to start in September, although the gallery will remain open during the project, which has been in the planning stages for several years.
New displays - which are due to be unveiled in the autumn of 2018 - will chart the history of Scottish art from the 17th to the mid-20th century.
The revamp of the gallery, which dates back to 1859, was designed by the late Scottish architect Gareth Hoskins, who passed away earlier this year, and is being taken forward by his Glasgow-based practice.
The work is expected to provide a huge boost to number of visitors to the attraction, the UK’s most popular art gallery outside London, which attracted 1.4 million people through its doors last year.
Michael Clarke, director of the Scottish National Gallery, said: “We are absolutely delighted that the project has received the full and generous support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.
“Scotland’s historic art will at last be displayed in a space that will do it justice and enable our visitors from home and abroad to appreciate fully its many and distinctive qualities.
“Our world-famous collections, displayed in our historic and sympathetically remodelled gallery, will reinforce our position as one of Scotland’s ‘must see’ attractions.”
Lucy Casot, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “This project will breathe new life into the collection so that it can bring joy and inspiration to national and international visitors.
“Importantly, it will also reach out to schools and community groups across the country so that they too can learn from and enjoy these national treasures.”
Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The generous support shown by the Heritage Lottery Fund recognises the importance of the National Galleries of Scotland’s project.
“It presents a fantastic opportunity to promote the enduring influence and legacy that Scottish art and artists have had on the world and to help engage new audiences, who are certain to be inspired and enriched by the new facilities and activities that will be on offer.”