The National Galleries

The Mound Precinct


In recent years the Mound Precinct has been a popular venue for street entertainment, particularly during the Edinburgh Festival each August.  

It 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 Future

for both Galleries

   Artist's Impression of a Proposed new entrance to the National Galleries of Scotland

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).

Monet Exhibition

August 2003

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 National Galleries of Scotland web site.

The Playfair Project

National Gallery of Scotland

This project, 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 Scotland.

The Playfair Project

The Royal Scottish Academy

The 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 art exhibitions. 

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.

The Playfair Project

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 facilities. 

This stage is due to be completed in summer 2005.

[Royal Scottish Academy Press Office and Edinburgh Evening News]



The National Galleries


1840s      Earthen Mound      2 Galleries      4 Galleries     Future      Artists


Thumbnails     Future     Exhibitions


1850s    1876    1890    1995

Art Manufactures 1856   1857   1861


The Mound     6 small maps      1830      1840     1850     1860     1870     2001