The National Galleries
recent years the Mound Precinct has been a popular venue for street entertainment,
the Edinburgh Festival each August.
has seen a Galloping Horses Funfair Ride each Christmas.
But now this whole area is a
building site, with major work being carried out at the Royal Scottish
Academy (now closed until 2003) and proposed at the National Gallery of
Scotland (still open, with access through its 'back door').
A large banner hangs on the front of
the Royal Scottish Academy, facing on to Princes Street, featuring a
bust of Sir Walter Scott wearing a safety helmet, and declaring the
opening date of 2003.
The proposed work on the National Gallery of Scotland was announced in
November 2000, as The Playfair Project, named after William Henry
Playfair, the architect of the Royal Scottish Academy (built 1826) and
the National Gallery of Scotland (1850-59).
The Playfair project will bring the two galleries up
to a standard where they are able to host major exhibitions of
paintings. The first such exhibition is due to be hosted by the
National Gallery of Scotland immediately following completion of stage 1
of the Playfair Project in August 2003.
This is to be an exhibition of more than 80 of Claude
Monet's landscape and seascape paintings. Further details can be
found on the
Galleries of Scotland web site.
Gallery of Scotland
will cost £27m, and will create an additional 15,000 sq ft of temporary
exhibition space, together with a 200-seat theatre, a 75-seat seminar
room, a 150-seat restaurant and an IT centre at the National Gallery of
The Royal Scottish Academy
Royal Scottish Academy has recently had major work carried out to
stabilise the building. It was built on 4000 timber piles, most of
which subsequently rotted, so 380,000 litres of concrete have now been
injected beneath the building to give it a sound base again.
The next phase of work on the Royal
Scottish Academy began in 2001. This involves
structural repairs, new lighting, humidity controls and filtration
to bring the gallery up to a standard suitable for hosting international
There will also be
improved visitor facilities, and some of Playfair's original galleries,
bricked-up during the last refurbishment in 1909, will be opened again.
This work should
be completed in summer 2003.
Underground Link between the Galleries
The final stage of
work will be tunnelling of 50,000 tons of earth to create an underground
link between the two galleries.
There will be a
circular glass lift, and access from a concourse area overlooking
Princes Street Gardens, together with new educational and visitor
This stage is due to
be completed in summer 2005.
Academy Press Office and Edinburgh Evening News]