Opening date announced for Aberdeen Art Gallery

Aberdeen Art Gallery will re-open to the public on Saturday 2 November, it was announced today.

The date will mark the completion of a redevelopment project which has brought the most significant investment since it first opened in 1885.

Aberdeen Art Gallery is home to one of the finest collections in the UK, including works by important Scottish artists, designers and makers such as Henry Raeburn, Joan Eardley, Samuel Peploe, Rachel McLean, Bill Gibb and James Cromar Watt, as well as nationally and internationally-acclaimed artists including Barbara Hepworth, Francis Bacon, Tracey Emin and Claude Monet.

A key element of Aberdeen City Council’s City Centre Masterplan, the project is transforming the Art Gallery, Cowdray Hall and Remembrance Hall into a major cultural attraction which is expected to attract around 250,000 visits annually - making it one of Scotland’s most-visited galleries.

Since work began in 2015, the Schoolhill complex of buildings has been completely reimagined and transformed by Hoskins Architects and exhibition designers Studioarc to meet both the needs of visitors and requirements for the care of the nationally recognised art collection.

The £34.6million project includes investment in the fabric of the buildings, new exhibition and display galleries, improved visitor facilities and an enhanced activity programme.

Improvements include:

  • Restoring and modernising the Grade A-listed building and significantly improving access and way-finding for all visitors, including creating level access from Schoolhill and opening up vistas throughout the building as well as views across the city from the new second floor.
  • Increasing the number of spaces for the display of the permanent collections from 11 to 18, and the number of items on display from approximately 300 in 2015 to over 1,000 in 2019.
  • Re-interpreting the collections to provide a more enjoyable and enriching visitor experience, including the use of digital interactives and personal in-gallery playlists.
  • A striking new top floor housing The BP Galleries which will host three national and international touring exhibitions a year. BP recently announced £1m support for the project.
  • Repairing and modernising the Cowdray Hall, preserving its celebrated acoustic and enhancing its status as an excellent small-scale concert venue.
  • Improving the overall visitor experience by providing a more visually welcoming entrance area, clearer signage, enhanced retail and catering facilities and new learning and activity spaces.
  • Refurbishing the Remembrance Hall and re-establishing it as a quiet place for reflection, honouring lives lost in conflict.

Councillor Jenny Laing, Co-Leader of Aberdeen City Council, said: “The landmark redevelopment of Aberdeen Art Gallery, Cowdray Hall and Remembrance Hall is creating an exceptional centre for art and music in the heart of the city. It is part of an incredible period of positive change in Aberdeen, with the recent opening of the refurbished Music Hall and the excitement building as we prepare for the launch of P&J Live in the months ahead. With work on the restoration of Provost Skene’s House set to begin and Union Terrace Gardens ready to be transformed, it is a hugely important period in the story of Aberdeen.”

Councillor Douglas Lumsden, Co-Leader of Aberdeen City Council, said: “Aberdeen Art Gallery is a jewel in the city’s crown and the restoration and expansion is creating a world class attraction. It is an important part of the City Centre Masterplan and also supports our Regional Economic Strategy’s aim of diversifying the economy, building our reputation as a destination city. The cultural offering in Aberdeen has changed beyond all recognition in recent years and this project is of huge significance not only regionally but also in terms of our national and international standing.”

Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokesperson, said: “The transformation of Aberdeen Art Gallery is a tremendous civic project. The countdown to the re-opening of one of the city’s most-loved buildings has begun and soon visitors will be able to experience for themselves the benefits of this once-in-a-lifetime transformation, creating a venue that is accessible to all and designed with the needs of all visitors in mind. When it re-opens on 2 November, people are sure to fall in love all over again with this beautiful building and the rich collection which belongs to each and every one of us in Aberdeen.”

Riona McMorrow, The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Acting Head of Scotland, said: “It’s fantastic news that the eagerly-awaited transformation of Aberdeen Art Gallery will soon be opening its doors to the public. Thanks to National Lottery investment, the region will have a gallery worthy of the exceptional art works it houses. It will not only attract more tourists to the area but will benefit the wider community as they explore and enjoy their rich heritage in exciting and dynamic new surroundings.”

The project has received £10m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and £14.6m from Aberdeen City Council’s Non-Housing Capital Fund. The fundraising campaign to secure the remaining £10m has raised £4.8m to date. Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums Development Trust has been set up to support fundraising for Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums. It is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, Number SC045363.