Art for all as gallery re-opens

The revamped Scottish National Portrait Gallery will be a wonderful resource for learning, writes Julia Horton

Images of people across Scotland from the 17th-century Jacobites to modern-day immigrants will be unveiled at the newly renovated national portrait gallery.

There will be a host of new galleries covering subjects including science, history and culture at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (SNPG) when it re-opens on 1 December. After two years of redevelopment, the Edinburgh gallery has been restored to reveal its Arts and Crafts architecture.

More artworks than ever before will be exhibited in extra display areas, including Imagining Power: the visual culture of the Jacobite cause. Visitors can see portraits of supporters of the deposed Stuart dynasty at home and overseas from the SNPG's collection, the most extensive and significant in the world.

Meanwhile, Migration Stories: Pakistan focuses on Scotland's 30,000 Pakistani residents, the largest ethnic community in the country. It is part of an ongoing series highlighting Scotland's cultural diversity and influence internationally.

SNPG will also have a much stronger educational focus with a purpose-built learning suite. Gallery staff plan to invite storytellers, actors, artists and visitors to help bring the portraits to life and offer new perspectives.

Meg Faragher, SNPG learning co-ordinator, explained: "I love the idea of walking, talking portraits, but even more than that, I like the idea of offering playful ways of exploring and interrogating well-known characters and works of art.

"I'd like families to help recreate some of the portraits, decide `What happened next?' and get involved using costumes, music, props and lots of imagination."

The new drop-in activity, to be called Meet the Ancestors, will be held on Sunday afternoons.

Web links will be used to give people who cannot visit the Queen Street gallery in person access to the collections.

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