The Clear-up and Clean-up Continues….
The very depths of the Portrait Gallery are currently being excavated for remaining ‘stuff’, mostly relating to the administrative side of our activities, and which has been stored in what we refer to as ‘the Silver Store’, on the east side of the building in the basement. This space was formerly used for the storage of silver items from the collection of the National Museum of Antiquities and is destined to be occupied by ‘plant’ when we reopen.
Staff on clear-up duty have been spotted instigating a competition to see who can construct the cardboard storage boxes in the fastest possible time, and have even beaten our professional removers to it. Dr Duncan Thomson, a former Keeper of the Portrait Gallery, has also been roped in to take away boxes of books which have gone unnoticed in this deepest of storage rooms during the last decade.
Meanwhile, in a more visible part of the building, a mobile scaffolding tower has been erected in the Ambulatory in preparation for the Conservation Department to start the big cover-up of the Frieze and Murals, making sure that they are protected during the refurbishment – more of this I’m sure, including photos, in future posts.
In addition to Portrait of the Nation, other projects continue to be forged, executed and staged – I was at the Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries last week, installing the Homecoming Scotland 2009 Robert Burns exhibition: Zig-Zag: The Paths of Robert Burns.
I have now met my third 21st-century incarnation of the poet this year, the 250th anniversary of his birth. This exhibition has been organised by the National Burns Collection, of which the National Galleries of Scotland is a partner. The iconic portrait of Burns by Alexander Nasmyth (above), together with a number of our works relating to the poet, can be seen as part of this exhibition.