Countdown is on ahead of gallery reopening

The countdown has begun to the reopening of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery with the first visitors welcomed back into the building ahead of its full public opening in December after a £17 million revamp.

The first functions for friends and supporters of the National Galleries of Scotland were providing sneak peeks inside the building this week, with new galleries ranging from photographs of “Hot Scots” to a new celebration of Scotland’s first portrait painter, George Jameson.

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The former keeper of the portrait gallery, Duncan Thomson, has been among the early visitors to the building. He described how the building, which opened in 1889 as the brainchild of The Scotsman proprietor John Ritchie Findlay, has been “tied back together” in a renovation that has cleared out decades of architectural clutter.

“I’m deeply impressed by the way the building has been unified, that after the last 120 years it has really come into its own. It has been a process of getting rid of the clogging that had been built up, and bringing back the bracing building it was to start with,” said project manager Robert Galbraith.

The Scotsman publishes an eight-page supplement today devoted to the building, returning it to the spirit of architect Robert Rowand Anderson’s original design. It opens to the public on 1 December.