Edinburgh gallery appoints groups for £17m overhaul

National Galleries of Scotland is appointing a raft of design consultancies to expand and refresh the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh as part of a £17.6m transformation to help it attract a wider audience.

NGS will spend this week sifting through creative pitches from 13 exhibition design groups, including Scottish consultancy MKW Design.

According to NPG programme director Robert Galbraith, just one exhibition designer will be chosen to create all 18 exhibition spaces.

The successful group will help to implement the gallery’s new curatorial style, called ‘portrait of a nation’, which focuses on photography and Scottish landscape painting as well as portraiture.

With £7.6m worth of investment still required to supplement its £10m National Lottery funding, NGS has appointed Redpath Design to create a fundraising campaign for the gallery.

Redpath beat three advertising agencies, including Leithal Thinking, the design arm of Edinburgh advertising agency The Leith Agency, in a creative pitch. The four-year contract will see Redpath put together multiple marketing campaigns informing the public of developments at the gallery, until its relaunch in 2011.

‘Usually, when a client thinks of the word “campaign”, they immediately associate it with “advertising agency”, so it is good to have won this pitch as a design group,’ says Redpath managing director Richard Irvine.

Redpath’s first marketing campaign will appear in May. Glasgow-based design consultancy Graven Images was appointed six months ago by the project’s incumbent architect Page & Park to work on the gallery’s new café and entrance area. The consultancy was appointed without a pitch after working with the architect on previous projects.

The gallery is doubling in size because of the departure of the Museum of Antiquities, which used to share the building with the portrait gallery.

Page & Park is giving the exterior of the Gothic revival building a facelift. Galbraith says that the façade has not been renovated since it was built nearly 120 years ago.

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