Located on Belford Road, northwest of Edinburgh's New Town and opposite the Dean Gallery, is the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. The gallery, which is part of the National Galleries of Scotland, houses a collection of more than 5000 items, dating from the late 19th Century to the present day. This includes important Surrealist and German Expressionist works, with paintings by Giacometti, Hockney, Matisse and Picasso, along with an unrivalled collection of 20th Century Scottish art, from the Colourists to contemporary works.
The Greek Doric building was designed by William Burn (1789 - 1870) and completed in 1825 as the John Watson School for the 'fatherless children of the professional classes'. It takes the form of a five-bay Neo-Classical frontage, with a grand six-columned portico. The building, with its class-rooms and dormitories, was bought by the Crown Estates Commissioners in 1979 and they were responsible for its successful adaptation (1981-4) to its new function, providing bright and spacious rooms for the showing of the art works.
The extensive parkland grounds provide a setting for works of sculpture by, for example, Caro, Hepworth and Moore and also include the remains of an early 18th Century windmill. In front of the Gallery, where sculptures were displayed on a lawn, a decision was taken to re-develop the space. Following a radical and beautiful transformation, designed by architectural historian Charles Jencks (b. 1939), the site is now occupied by an eye-catching Landform, consisting of a sinuous series of grass-covered stepped terraces rising to form a mound, with pools of water occupying crescent-shaped hollows in-between. This remarkable 'earth-sculpture' won the prestigious Gulbenkian Prize in 2004.
The gallery first opened in 1960 in Inverleith House, situated in the Royal Botanic Gardens, to show the modern art collection held by the National Gallery. The collection has subsequently been greatly extended and the gallery moved to its present site in 1984.