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Edinburgh, Queen Street, Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Art Gallery (19th Century), Museum (19th Century)

Site Name Edinburgh, Queen Street, Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Classification Art Gallery (19th Century), Museum (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) North St Andrew Lane; North St Andrew Street

Canmore ID 74042

Site Number NT27SE 500

NGR NT 25570 74253

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2021.

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Digital Images

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Edinburgh, City Of
  • Parish Edinburgh (Edinburgh, City Of)
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District City Of Edinburgh
  • Former County Midlothian

Architecture Notes

NT27SE 500 25570 74253

For associated offices see NT27SE 499.

ARCHITECT: Sir Robert Rowand Anderson, 1885-1890.

Taken from NMRS Architectural Catalogue Slip; Museum of Antiquities

National Art Survey Drawings - Nos 828, 832, 847, 849, 850, 854, 855, 857, 867 - 878. The drawings with these numbers in the Print Room do not, however, relate to the Museum of Antiquities.

Construction financed by J.R. Findlay, owner of the Scotsman Newspaper.

Red sandstone from Corsehill Quarry, Dumfries. Stonework restored by Hurd Rolland Partnership, 1987-90.

Prospect 1990


Project (1997)

The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association ( set up a National Recording Project in 1997 with the aim of making a survey of public monuments and sculpture in Britain ranging from medieval monuments to the most contemporary works. Information from the Edinburgh project was added to the RCAHMS database in October 2010 and again in 2012.

The PMSA (Public Monuments and Sculpture Association) Edinburgh Sculpture Project has been supported by Eastern Photocolour, Edinburgh College of Art, the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, Historic Scotland, the Hope Scott Trust, The Old Edinburgh Club, the Pilgrim Trust, the RCAHMS, and the Scottish Archive Network.

Conservation (May 2008 - November 2008)

NT 2557 7425. The building is a late 19th-century purpose built museum and art gallery. It was endowed by John

Ritchie Finlay in 1882, designed by Robert Rowand Anderson in a 13th-century French style, built in red sandstone, and completed in 1890. The similarities to and influences of Anderson’s Mount Stuart House on Bute for the 3rd Marquess of Bute are notable (DES 2007, 45–46).

Research revealed the extent of alterations during the 20th century, notably the replacement of floor and ceiling structures for fireproofing. Documentary and physical evidence proved that no original ceilings and roof construction survive today. The W part of the building was originally used by the National Museum of Antiquities and the E by the Portrait Gallery.

The western part was fireproofed from 1914, introducing new ceilings and roofs for the Museum of Antiquities. As part of these works the vaulted ceiling of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland library on the top floor was replaced. These works resulted in the loss of Anderson’s ceiling for the library and the close correspondence between shelf detailing and ceiling construction of Anderson’s original design was not reproduced in the new works.

Fireproofing works stopped with WW1 and were not resumed for the Portrait Gallery part until a fire threat in

1929. The Portrait Gallery side received new ceilings and roof in the 1930s, with a then state-of-the-art louvre fitting to diffuse lighting for the upper galleries. This was inspired by a contemporary construction at the Boyman Museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The different treatment of the ceilings is still visible today.

The later alterations are remarkable for the respect paid to the original building. The building is still perceived as a 19th-century museum and gallery despite comprehensive and extensive alterations during the 20th century. The conservation plan was produced on work undertaken May–November 2008.

Archive: National Galleries of Scotland

Funder: National Galleries of Scotland

John Sanders, Jen Austin, Tanja Romankiewicz, Cath McFarlane and Joe Rock (Simpson and Brown Architects), 2008

Photographic Survey (11 November 2008)

Photographed for the Threatened Buildings Survey prior to the restoration project undertaken by Page and Park Architects between 2009-11.


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