A familiar building to anybody living in or visiting Edinburgh, the Old City Observatory is finally enjoying a new lease of life. Left to crumble, the once decrepit ruin has become home to the Collective Gallery on Calton Hill, the latest Edinburgh art gallery to open in the capital.
Collective Gallery on Calton Hill opens its doors
Arts group Collective opened their new gallery here in November 2018, taking over a building which has a long and fascinating history. Inside the walled grounds of the gallery, you’ll find a collection of historic buildings. These include the Playfair Monument, Observatory House, City Dome, Transit House and, of course, the City Observatory. Designed in 1818 by William Henry Playfair, the site has been home to astronomers since 1776. In fact, sailors coming ashore in Leith were said to have set their time pieces by the ‘Politicians Clock’. This was in the window of the Transit House as they walked up Calton Hill!
Transforming a historic building
But what’s the story behind Collective’s latest venture? The arts group first exhibited here in 2010 during the Edinburgh Art Festival. Today they’ve turned the old observatory building into one of the best places in the city to look at, think about and produce contemporary art. It’s been no mean feat; the transformation has taken eight years at a cost of £4.5m, completely restoring this beautiful building to its former glory.
What’s on at the Collective Gallery?
Opening exhibitions include an installation on alternative cosmologies in the City Dome by artist Dineo Seshee Bopape. As well as a collection of diaries and drawings by James Hutchinson. Which were said to be inspired by female scientists with close ties to the observatory buildings.
Great news for city art lovers
Art lovers in the city and visitors alike welcome the news of the Collective Gallery’s opening. Especially as it follows the sad closure of Inverleith House’s gallery at the end of 2018. Great things once happened behind the walls of the City Observatory in the 19th century – now Collective are ensuring that this continues.
Book your break at Parliament House Hotel today and you’ll be just a few steps away from the Collective Gallery on Calton Hill. Our historic hotel is also close to the Fruitmarket Gallery and within walking distance of the Ingleby Gallery, so we’re the ideal base for exploring Edinburgh’s vibrant art scene.