…As Scottish National Portrait Gallery furthers £17m project

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery has launched a fundraising campaign by Redpath and appointed an exhibition designer to work on its £17m transformation.

Studioarc beat Hamilton Design, Redman Design, MKW Design and designers Cavan Convery and Andy McGregor, who made a joint pitch, to win the four-year contract.

The five groups were whittled down from a shortlist of 13 in March, and Studioarc was appointed last month. The gallery briefed Studioarc to help create permanent and temporary exhibitions that will last between two months and five years each.

‘The aim here is to turn the permanent collection into exhibitions and displays, since we have been showing them in a slightly desultory way,’ says SNPG programme director Robert Galbraith. ‘Studioarc will co-ordinate the overall look of the gallery, how the exhibitions work together and how the key areas are integrated,’ he adds.

Studioarc intends to use audiovisual technology to enhance the displays, and is working with Fotoma on a lighting design concept that exploits the 120-year-old gallery’s natural light.

‘We want to create a contemporary space that joins seamlessly with the historic building,’ says Studioarc managing director Duncan Baikie. ‘Most galleries are black, windowless boxes, but there are roof and sidelights here that we want to make more of,’ he adds.

The gallery launched Portrait of the Nation (pictured), the Redpath-designed fundraising campaign, last week, hoping to raise £7m of investment. ‘A [graphic based on the] letter “n” juxtaposes gallery visitors and their favourite portraits,’ says Redpath managing director Richard Irvine. ‘Many of the models and portraits are connected by blood or place, others through a more emotional bond.’

The fundraising campaign will target private investors this year before becoming a public appeal in 2009. The gallery will close next year for two years of construction, before it reopens in 2011.

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