By Rachel Etherington, Assistant Registrar Science Museum Group 

For my first UKRG event I was delighted to be invited to write on a talk dedicated to an innovative sustainable storage project presented by National Galleries Scotland at this year’s Taking Stock event at the National Gallery in Edinburgh.

The talk presented by Holly Prentice, Store Manager (Collections), of the National Galleries introduced The Art Works, a democratic storage facility, which aims to not only care for 90% of the National Galleries Scotland’s collection but accomplish the Passivhaus environmental standard and forge meaningful relationships with communities in an area of Edinburgh, Granton, undergoing major renovation. 

At present National Galleries Scotland run the Granton Art Centre, a purpose-built store, where artists, researchers, schools, and individuals can request visits. As part of the planned regeneration of the Granton Waterfront, dedicated to sustainable growth, the National Galleries saw an opportunity to redevelop their stores in line with Edinburgh’s goal of becoming a greener and fairer economy. 

The Art Works were described by Holly as:  

“a major capital project to deliver a sustainable building in the heart of the community of Granton. It is a building with which we will care, research, and most importantly share our wonderful collection”. 

The area marked for renovation presents significant economic challenges, where 30% of the children currently live in poverty – just one of the many reasons for the £1.2 billion redevelopment. The project promises new transport links, 3,500 homes, a healthcare centre, and two primary schools.  

The Art Works will cover 4.2 hectares and have entrances for staff and public, promising a building that is for everyone. 

The talk focused on three key aspects of The Art Works – Sustainability, Community and Collections.  


  • Bespoke sustainability framework created, includes health and wellbeing, pollution and future climate, and learning and engagement 
  • Mobile orchard planted on site 
  • Passivhaus building – the development will be reviewed at each stage enabling a high-quality build with low energy use and a clear layout. 


  • Project Esperanza group for women of African heritage in Edinburgh working with artist to create artwork on display at Granton Art Centre – sparked ideas around training and workshop spaces 
  • Democratic space: One collection, one building that is yours to discover. Nothing is curated, focus on igniting conversations 
  • Fresh Start mural – National Galleries working with local charity Fresh Start, helping people who have been homeless get established 
  • Your Art World – art programme for 3 – 18-year-olds 


  • At present divided between three buildings and three stores 
  • Re-branding in 2016/17 enabled organisation to see themselves as one collection – helped prepare for The Art Works 
  • Archives/library are side-by-side with the larger collections 
  • A list of ‘nightmare to move’ objects provided to architects, demonstrating the heaviest and tallest 
  • Collection services based on site   

When should we expect The Art Works to be unveiled? The momentous journey began in 2011 with the commissioning of an infrastructure survey of Scottish nationals and culminated with the submission of the planning application in April 2023. The Collections Team are aiming to update their address late 2025/early 2026. 

You can find out more about The Art Works on the National Galleries Scotland website here. Alternatively, you can contact Holly Prentice at [email protected].  

To find out more about the Passivhaus standard visit the UK Passive House Organisation’s website here