Page last updated at 23:23 GMT, Sunday, 29 March 2009 00:23 UK

Gallery revamp gets 4.5m boost

An artist's impression of the gallery's revamped East Hall
An artist's impression of how the East Hall will look after the revamp

A project to revamp the Scottish National Portrait Gallery has been given a £4.5m boost.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant will go towards the £17.6m cost of the project, which aims to double gallery space and visitor numbers.

The renovated building will have a dedicated education suite, auditorium, IT gallery and research centre.

The revamp is expected to take up to two-and-a-half years. The gallery will close on Sunday so the work can begin.

The building which houses Scotland's national portrait collection opened in 1889, and has been described as an architectural masterpiece.

The renovation project, called Portrait of the Nation, will increase the number of items displayed by 350%, allowing the gallery to display many more of its 30,000 portraits and photographs.

'New life'

James Holloway, the gallery's director, said: "We are delighted with the support from the HLF.

"Their confidence in the scheme is a terrific boost at this critical stage of the project."

He said the revamp would enable the creation of an "imaginative and bold portrait gallery suitable for Scotland in 21st Century".

Colin McLean, head of HLF in Scotland, said: "New life will now be breathed into this beautiful historic building.

"Treasures that have been stored away for years will be brought out to showcase Scotland's history through the portraits of those who shaped it."

This weekend the gallery will host the Farewell Festival, a weekend of events to mark the closure, which will have a special emphasis on families and children.

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