All eyes on Edinburgh City Observatory thanks to National Lottery funding

The new panoramic viewing terrace overlooking Edinburgh Credyd: Tom Nolan
A new centre for contemporary art with incredible views overlooking the city of Edinburgh has opened after a major restoration project.

Collective is situated at the top of Calton Hill, one of the Scottish capital’s World Heritage sites. It includes the restored City Observatory, designed by William Playfair, which will be freely open to the public for the first time in its 200-year history.

A grant of £1.3million from the National Lottery has helped transform the birthplace of astronomy and timekeeping in Edinburgh into a unique contemporary visual art gallery space and permanent home for Collective Gallery.

A ‘must visit’ destination in Edinburgh

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener, City of Edinburgh Council, said: “Gazing over the city from the top of Calton Hill, the City Observatory has played an important role in Edinburgh life for hundreds of years. Now it is set to become one of the most unique ‘must visit’ destinations in all of the city.

“The building is a historically significant symbol of the Edinburgh Enlightenment as well as a major contributor to the history of star gazing. It’s a brilliant example of Scottish architecture and boasts a prominent position on the Edinburgh skyline with panoramic views of the Firth of Forth, Arthur’s Seat and Edinburgh Castle. It is surely one of the most significant conservation projects to take place in Edinburgh in recent times.”

“Gazing over the city from the top of Calton Hill, the City Observatory has played an important role in Edinburgh life for hundreds of years.”Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener, City of Edinburgh Council

The Collective also includes:

  • Hillside - a brand-new exhibition and office space embedded in the hillside in front of the City Observatory which will exhibit work from emerging artists and producers in Scotland
  • Hillside Terrace - a panoramic viewing terrace on the roof of The Hillside allowing visitors to soak up the stunning views north across Leith and the Firth of Forth
  • The City Dome - completed in 1895 as a subsidiary to the main Observatory, the City Dome has been restored to play host to a changing programme of international artists showing their work in Scotland for the first time
  • The Lookout - a purpose-built restaurant which is cantilevered to partially float above the hillside, giving panoramic views
  • Transit House – restored to serve as a learning and education space for visiting schools and groups. It will display the original ‘Politician’s Clock’, so-called because it has two faces. Sailors would use the clock (accurately set by celestial observations) to set their chronometers.

The opening exhibition - Affinity and Allusion - will draw on themes connected to Calton Hill’s rich history. It will feature the work of artists Dineo Seshee Bopape, James N Hutchinson, Alexandra Laudo, Tessa Lynch, Catherine Payton and Klaus Weber.

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