A major redevelopment plan for Aberdeen Art Gallery is on course to start early next year after a £10million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund was secured.
The 130-year-old city centre landmark will close for the £30million refurbishment project to bring the attraction “into the 21st century”.
The Labour-led council administration has already committed £10million from the non-housing capital fund, and has pledged to underwrite a further £10million.
However, it is hoped that won’t be necessary, with a major fundraising campaign being launched for the final £10million for the restoration of the gallery and the adjoining Cowdray Hall and Memorial Court buildings.
Council leader Jenny Laing, said: “We are absolutely delighted that heritage lottery have chosen to award £10million, it will compliment the £10million the council has set aside.
“We’re now looking to launch a campaign for the £10million shortfall.
“I would hope that organisations, businesses and individuals will get on board with that.
The Labour councillor added: “I think there are many people within Aberdeen that have a great fondness for the art gallery and I would like to see it modernised in order to meet the needs of the 21st century and to be enjoyed by the generations to come.”
Gayle Gorman, the authority’s director of education, culture and sport, said the existing buildings were in need of repair, and the extension plans could attract major international exhibitions that the Schoolhill site cannot currently host.
She said: “At the moment, the environmental conditions are of a 20th century building. Under the plans, we’ll have the right environmental conditions, and the right space to be able to do new exhibitions also.
“It’s quite a major development while keeping the interiors intact.”
Finance convener Willie Young, said: “It is my understanding that the art gallery will close at the end of this year or if not, then early next year.”
The art gallery is expected to reopen in 2017.
There are also plans for works to be stored at a £3million Museums Collections Centre at Northfield.
The council aims to attract around 250,000 visitors per year to the gallery once the renovation is complete.
The revamp plans will increase the number of gallery spaces in the building from 11 to 21, and will also include the construction of an extra floor to the A-listed building for use as further exhibition space.
A community gallery will also be installed in a newly-constructed wing at the rear of the building, along with two new learning suites and a brand new concert space in Cowdray Hall.
Gareth Hoskins Architects – who recently completed work on the National Museum of Scotland – are to lead the redesign of the buildings.
The work has also been backed by Historic Scotland.
However, one feature will not be preserved – a marble staircase at the gallery.
The current main thoroughfare to the second floor will be replaced during the renovations.
Yesterday, council officials said the staircase was “not an original feature” of the building.