Art centre to open on Calton Hill in Edinburgh

image copyrightTom Nolan
image captionIt has a panoramic viewing terrace

A new centre for contemporary art is to open at one of Edinburgh's most iconic sites.

Collective - on Calton Hill - will include a new exhibition space and restaurant as well as the restored City Observatory.

The £4.5m development on the world heritage site is the result of a partnership between artists, businesses and local people.

The new art centre will open on Saturday.

Collective will include the restored City Observatory, designed by William Playfair in 1818, a new purpose-built exhibition space with panoramic viewing terrace, and a destination restaurant, The Lookout by Gardener's Cottage.

For the first time in its 200-year history the City Observatory site will be freely open to the public.

image copyrightTom Nolan
image captionThe City Observatory was designed by William Playfair in 1818

A selection of international and Scotland-based artists, commissioned specially for the opening, will exhibit their work.

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

The City Observatory played a key role in the history of astronomy and timekeeping in Edinburgh.

The original telescope, installed in the observatory in 1831, will be on display.

image copyrightTom Nolan

Kate Gray, director of Collective, said: "After more than five years of fundraising and hard work it's incredibly exciting to be opening our doors to visitors at last.

"Collective is situated in a very special location on Calton Hill and we hope to offer our visitors an equally special experience, combining extraordinary art and architecture with panoramic views of the city.

"We now extend a warm welcome to residents of Edinburgh and visitors to the city and invite them to come up and see us."

Donald Wilson, City of Edinburgh Council's culture and communities convener, 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 - an original Playfair design - and boasts a prominent position on the Edinburgh skyline with panoramic views of the Firth of Forth, Arthur's Seat and Edinburgh Castle. When it reopens, it is also going to be a space for people to enjoy the arts and for the public to visit freely.

"It is surely one of the most significant conservation projects to take place in Edinburgh in recent times."