The Collective art gallery announced today that it will reopen in its new home on Calton Hill at 10am on 24 November. 

The centre for contemporary art will occupy old Observatory structures as well as modern, purpose-built ones: 

  • The Transit House will be used by visiting groups as a space for education.
  • The restored City Dome will feature a changing display of work by international artists, work seen in this country for the first time.
  • The Hillside is a new exhibition and office space, mostly championing the Satellites Programme for emerging Scottish artists and producers.
  • A viewing terrace on The Hillside’s roof (pictured below) promises great views of many places across southern and central Scotland where there isn’t any contemporary art by emerging Scottish artists and producers.
  • The Lookout, run by Gardener’s Cottage staff, will be a ‘destination’ restaurant featuring seasonal ingredients sourced locally. The cantilevered upper floor which ‘floats’ out over the hill will particularly appeal to those who enjoy their food subtly enhanced by vertigo.

The five-year £4.5m refurbishment is the product of a partnership between Collective and the City of Edinburgh Council. Funding has come from many trusts, foundations and private donors, as well as the Council, Creative Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, and Edinburgh World Heritage.

Philip Deverell, Director of Strategy at Creative Scotland said, ‘Creative Scotland is delighted to support the development of the historic City Observatory by Collective through a Large Capital Award [£1m].

‘The project will not only enhance and diversify Collective’s artistic and creative offer but will consolidate their position as a leading visual arts organisation. This project reinterprets Playfair’s Observatory buildings as a space for the people of Edinburgh, and visitors to the city, where people can meet, think, debate and enjoy great art.'

Edinburgh World Heritage’s Director, Adam Wilkinson, said, ‘We are delighted to support Collective’s vision for conserving and reusing the City Observatory.

‘Knowing the historical, architectural and scientific significance of the building, they first approached us to fund the production of a thorough conservation statement. This ensured that sensitive and appropriate repairs and interventions were made. Particular highlights for us are the restoration of Playfair’s original 1827 open plan layout for the ground floor, and the conservation of the Transit House.

‘We have invested significant funds in the conservation of other monuments on Calton Hill over the last ten years and are pleased to support these works, which form the final piece of the jigsaw.’

Spurtle welcomes this return and improvement of a lively, challenging artistic voice in Edinburgh. A further report will follow a sneak preview next month.




Calton Hill