Attractions industry news

28 Nov 2014

SNP calls for Aberdeen Council to abandon £30m gallery project

The Scottish National Party (SNP) is urging Aberdeen City Council leaders to abandon a £30m (US$47.2m, €37.9m) renovation project to completely revamp Aberdeen Art Gallery amid claims of spiralling costs and widespread public objection.

The SNP tabled a motion to be considered at a council meeting in December, calling for the tender process for the renovation to be “halted immediately.”

The refurbishment scheme already has the majority of funding in place and has already gained planning permission, though some have described the gallery’s design as “cultural vandalism”, while many have been unhappy with the planned removal of the facility’s marble staircase.

SNP councillor John Corall has suggested that costs have soared for the project, in particularly storage of the gallery’s collection, which is said to reach around double the £3m (US$4.7m, €3.8m) estimate. Corall also said the gallery needed work to make it “wind and watertight” adding “I have not met a single Aberdonian with a good word to say about the art gallery redevelopment.”

Work on the £30m refurbishment of the 130-year-old building is due to start in Q1 of 2015, with a £10m (US$15.7m, €12.6m) grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), while the council has committed a further £10m. The approved plans include the construction of a new rooftop gallery and extension of the gallery’s iconic war memorial. Meanwhile, proposals for the interior include stripping-out spaces, relocating granite columns and reinstating the pilaster vaulting, refurbishment of the Cowdray Hall, the creation of a community gallery as part of a new wing at the rear of the building and the installation of a new principal staircase.

Once work is underway, the project is expected to take two years to complete.

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