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The Great Glass Elevator and Other Stories

November 6, 2009

Just as the Portrait Gallery building was beginning to look a little like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory before the Golden Ticket competition, when no-one and nothing came and went – least of all Willy Wonka himself, the Oompa Loompas, the Eatable Marshmallow Pillows, Everlasting Gobstoppers and other chocolates and sweets, and indeed, visitors – change is imminent.

  Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Raeburn Room and Arcade, late 1920s

Not quite to the extent of Golden Tickets being planned for the Portrait Gallery scones,  but the Queen Street building is set to become an apparent hive of activity once again, as it has just been handed over to our contractors, BAM Construction, who will refurbish and restore, transforming the building by Spring 2011, complete with our very own ‘great glass elevator’, which will replace the somewhat current temperamental lift.

Studioarc preliminary design for the arcade space off the Raeburn Room

Meanwhile, work on the Portrait of the Nation exhibitions gathers pace – NGS curators, educators and conservators continue to meet regularly with our design consultants, Studioarc.  Having started last year, this ongoing process benefits from the lengthy lead-in time, allowing for exhibition content, ideas and design elements to evolve, before the final realisation of all the exhibitions and displays, early in 2011.  In addition to the work going on in the exhibition and interpretation fields, planning is already underway for the ‘recant’ of the staff and collections in the Spring of 2011.

Tram passing the SNPG, c. early 1950s © Lothian Buses

Tram passing the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, c. early 1950s © Lothian Buses

Elsewhere, one of our partnership exhibitions with the  National Burns Collection and Homecoming Scotland 2009 Zig-Zag: The Paths of Robert Burns –  is in the last few weeks of its tour, at the Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow.  The exhibition closes on St. Andrew’s Day (30 November) –  never mind 1000 days until the 2012 Olympics, from this date it will be (provisionally) 730 days until the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is due to reopen.  The race for completion between Portrait of the Nation and the Edinburgh tram project is underway!

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