The work will create a new accessible path, new landscaping and wider steps in East Princes Street Gardens.
The overall project which will create a new home for the gallery’s art collections and see former office, storage and display spaces transformed. Visitors will, for the first time, be able enter the gallery directly from the adjacent East Princes Street Gardens. The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Scottish Government.
Sir John Leighton, director-general of the National Galleries of Scotland, said: “It has been very exciting over the autumn to see work on this transformational project get started, and as we move out of winter and into spring we’re looking forward to some of our first milestones becoming a reality. Landscaping will start shortly and by the spring our new accessible route into Princes Street Gardens will be complete and our restaurant and enlarged shop will reopen to welcome the public.”
The plans, which were approved after consultation with City of Edinburgh Council and other bodies, address the long-standing inadequacy of accessible routes in this area; without this new path, the East Gardens would remain accessible only via steep gradients or stairs.
Also due to start in this phase is the installation of a much larger lift and stairwell at the south end of the gallery. It has been designed to connect with the new gallery spaces and improve the way the whole building is accessed by visitors.
“We draw around 2.5 million visitors each year to our Edinburgh-based galleries, and our ambitious plans for the Scottish National Gallery will ensure we continue to meet the needs and expectations of all,” said Dr Tricia Allerston, co-director of Scottish National Gallery project. "With this once-in-a-lifetime project, we will transform the way we show the world’s greatest collection of historic Scottish art, both in the new, light-filled, state-of-the-art display spaces and in the innovative way we will be showcasing the work of Scottish artists alongside our wider international collection.”