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The Travelling Gallery, Scotland

Build it and They Will Come
New facilities
History of the Travelling Gallery
The exhibitions


On Thursday 12 April, the stunning new Travelling Gallery vehicle was launched at Waverley Court in Edinburgh.  The new vehicle replaces the much loved and hard working old Travelling Gallery bus which is nearly 25 years old.

New Travelling Gallery Launch, Waverley Court, Edinburgh; Photo: Susie Wright

The new Travelling Gallery is custom built, with an interior designed by award winning architects Sutherland Hussey and a striking exterior artwork by Glasgow based artist Mandy McIntosh.

The new Travelling Gallery was made possible by a grant of £173,500 from the National Lottery through the Scottish Arts Council, awarded in October 2005. The City of Edinburgh Council, which has run the Travelling Gallery service since 1997, also awarded over £100,000 towards the project. Additional funding was granted by The Friends of the City Art Centre and from the Adapt Trust.

New Travelling Gallery, Calton Hill, Edinburgh; Photo: Travelling Gallery

Iain Munro, Co-Director Director of Arts, Scottish Arts Council said:

'The Travelling Gallery has been a rolling success since it first took to the road. Not only does it allow rural communities to experience the best quality contemporary art, it also takes art into communities that would not otherwise be able to enjoy it easily. The combination of high quality work, with a knowledgeable and committed team brings the benefits to a diverse range of audiences of all ages. The new gallery has improved facilities and offers an even greater opportunity for contemporary art to be seen across Scotland.'

Build It and They Will Come

The Travelling Gallery service has, since its inception in 1978, brought exhibitions representative of the current international art scene to schools and communities throughout Scotland.

The new vehicle will continue and develop the work of the old one, with the inaugural exhibition, entitled Build It and They Will Come, which includes artists Cath Campbell (Newcastle),  Donna Conlon (Panama), Will Duke (Glasgow and London), Matthew Houlding (Yorkshire), Toby Paterson (Glasgow) and Susie Wright (Edinburgh and London).

Build It and They Will Come Exhibition; Photo Travelling Gallery

Many of the artworks have been commissioned specifically for the new space.

New facilities

As well as being an attractive and welcoming space, the new Travelling Gallery has many improved facilities.  These include a pavement level entrance and ramp to aid access for disabled visitors or pushchairs. Other additions include a hearing loop system, sophisticated new audio/visual and IT equipment, air conditioning, powerful onboard generator, air extraction facility, remote control roof blinds, solar panels, increased security and increased storage.

Another advantage is that the Gallery space is bigger allowing for larger school groups to visit and therefore increasing the number of people who will have access to the exhibitions on a daily basis.

Travelling Gallery Interior; Photo: Travelling Gallery Travelling Gallery Interior; Photo: Travelling Gallery

History of the Travelling Gallery

The Travelling Gallery was established  by the Scottish Arts Council in 1978.

The first vehicle was a converted double-decker bus and it was staffed by a lone Curator/Driver. The project proved so successful that, in 1983, the Scottish Arts Council commissioned the custom built vehicle which the new Travelling Gallery has just replaced.

Travelling Gallery circa 1983; Photo: Travelling Gallery

In 1996 the Scottish Arts Council sought applications from other organisations or individuals to take over the running of the Travelling Gallery. The City of Edinburgh Council was the successful applicant and in April 1997 ownership of the vehicle was transferred and a three year funding plan agreed.

Travelling Gallery circa 1994; Photo: Travelling Gallery

The Travelling Gallery is now  based at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh, supported by the City of Edinburgh Council Culture and Sport Section. It continues to run a national service throughout Scotland. Staff now include a full-time Cutator and Assistant, a part-time Education Officer, and two Driver Guides.

The exhibitions

The programme gives audiences throughout Scotland the opportunity to experience exhibitions by internationally renowned Scottish artists as well as artists from around the world.  Exploring concepts and technologies which are representative of current trends in international contemporary art.

Fair Creature, video still; Photo: Christine Gibb & Mandy McIntosh

'What I love about the new Gallery is the quality of light and also the fact that all the new facilities and equipment do not encroach into the space. This allows for a comfortable and contemplative environment in which to enjoy the art.'

Alison Chisholm, Travelling Gallery Curator


The Travelling Gallery’s award-winning Education Programme aims to expand on the ideas and skills highlighted in the exhibitions.  This will often involve bringing visiting artists into schools and communities to run full day workshops with groups in each area toured.

Out of the Ordinary Exhibition; Photo: Travelling Gallery

Exhibitions are designed to complement the curriculum and are supported by a package of education packs, reference materials, worksheets, ideas for pre-visit and follow-up work, etc.  The Travelling Gallery staff also introduce each exhibition to groups, explain the concepts and techniques behind the artists’ work and encourage pupils to engage with and form their own interpretation of the work on show.

For more information on the new bus or exhibitions, please visit the Travelling Gallery website.

Related links
* Travelling Gallery
* The City of Edinburgh Council
* Sutherland Hussey Architects
* Visual Arts in Scotland
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