It is twinned with the Edinburgh Gallery of Modern Art which lies on the opposite side of Belford Road.
The building can partly be viewed as an incongruous mismatch, in that despite its high Baroque grandeur, it was designed as the Dean Orphanage.
It was designed by Thomas Hamilton in 1831 and took three years to build. The upper towers (over the staircases) serve no function but contribute greatly to the Edinburgh skyline in the west of the city. The clock above the entrance comes from the 1764 demolition of the Netherbow Port on the Royal Mile, which formerly separated the High Street from the Canongate.
The building served as the Dean Education Centre for many decades before conversion to a gallery.
The curious plot of allotment gardens at the main entrance date from 1940 when many school grounds were used for such purposes but here is one of the few examples not to have reverted to school grounds.
Conversion to Gallery
The conversion was undertaken by the architect Sir Terry Farrell (architect).
The gallery was opened in 1999, opposite the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which is its sister gallery. In 2011 the buildings were renamed Modern Art Two and Modern Art One respectively. The conversion of the building into a gallery was designed by Terry Farrell. Since its opening it has housed the Paolozzi Gift, a collection of his works given to the Gallery of Modern Art in 1994 by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi. It contains a large collection of Dada and Surrealist art and literature, much of which was given by Gabrielle Keiller. It is also used for temporary exhibitions.
A selection of works are available to view online.
A free shuttle bus service links the gallery to the city centre galleries.
A small gate on the rear (east) side of the car park gives access to the wonderous Dean Cemetery.
- Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh, by Gifford McWilliam and Walker
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