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“Scenes from Communal Living”

August 18, 2009

The Portrait Gallery curators, educators and our Portrait of the Nation Programme Manager – fellow blogger – Robert Galbraith, are all now ‘safely’ ensconced in our temporary offices, here in Baden Powell House on Victoria Terrace.  Accordingly, the title of this post takes its name from an Edinburgh Festival Fringe show, which describes a) our new geographical location and b) the communal offices we now inhabit (other Fringe shows are, of course, on the menu here in Edinburgh this August).  I write the word ‘safely’ in inverted commas, as Shona – one of our online curators  –  compared the current maze-like appearance of the curatorial office to the challenging obstacles faced by Pac-Man.  

Opera Singers on Fisher’s Close

The Fringe Festival right on our doorstep at Baden Powell House


Whatever the internal state of affairs, we are very much in the thick of the festival atmosphere as soon as the officedoors swing open, with jazz bands to the left of us, ‘jokers’ to the right, and even a Ghost Tour which passes through Fisher’s Close and on to the Royal Mile every day at 3pm.

With the buzz of the Festival outside, the Queen Street building now seems a dim and distant memory, but maybe not to our Conservation Department, who have just completed the big cover-up of the Frieze and Murals

The last view of the Frieze before the big cover up

The last view of the Frieze before the big cover up

The Big Cover UpAs you can see from the photos, acres of the white material, known as Tyvek®, prepared with the invaluable assistance of a sewing machine belonging to National Museums Scotland Textile Conservation Department, has been attached to the interior decorative features of the Main Hall and Ambulatory in order to form a protective barrier  during the building refurbishment work.

Full cleaning and any necessary remedial treatment of both Frieze and Murals (and indeed the painted ceiling)  are planned before we are due to reopen in November 2011.

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