The new head of the National Galleries of Scotland has said she is supportive of Glasgow having access to Edinburgh's government-funded art collection.

Anne Lyden accepted the argument from her predecessor Sir John Leighton, that Glasgow, which has no nationally funded gallery, deserved to benefit.

Ms Lyden, who was the first woman to be appointed director-general in NGS's history, said it was something that was under discussion.

She took up the role on January 1 after Sir John stepped down following a 17-year tenure.

Edinburgh's collection includes major works by Titian, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Monet, Van Gogh and Picasso.

"I think that how we share the national collection is of vital important, and how that might look is what we are working on," said Ms Lyden.

The Herald:

"It's not a question of NGS simply parachuting into Glasgow, that wouldn't make sense.

"It has to be in conversation with existing partners there. It has to make sense financially, but there are no plans to be unfurled yet."

Her comments were welcomed by Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal of the University of Glasgow, who said: "Really good to see this being reiterated.

"Glasgow as Scotland's biggest city should benefit from the NGS collections.

"And there needs to be more general re-appraisal of Scotland's support for its major museums across the country."

She said this might also include a touring programme across the Highlands and Islands.


In May, the NGS will open a Vermeer exhibition, followed by a major show of works by the Irish painter Sir John Lavery and later this year the portrait gallery will mark the 40th anniversary of the miner's strike with an exhibition of images from the forming mining communities in the Lothians, Fife and Ayrshire.

Ms Lyden joined NGS in 2013, having previously held various curatorial positions at the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where she worked for 18 years.

She takes on the role at a time when Scotland's arts and culture sector is facing financial crisis, with a budget that has been virtually frozen for more than a decade.

NGS has had to cut back on staff numbers, losing 43 employees between 2021 and 2022, as as the temporary closure of its Modern Two building during lockdown.

The director-general and her team are in negotiations with Angus Robertson, the SNP's culture secretary, about whether there is any further funding on offer.

In an interview with The Times, the Clydebank-born director said she was confident that Scotland was "still keeping pace with what's happening" around the world.

She said: "Art is a commentary on the world, it helps us understand and interrogate events around us, whether that is historically or the here and now, and that's the dynamism of the art gallery today."

She added: "Governments can come and go, but it does not alter the fact that this collection belongs to the people of Scotland and therefore we have a responsibility for how we go about caring for it.

"It's mandated by law."