The keys to Aberdeen Art Gallery have been formally handed over to McLaughlin & Harvey.
The redevelopment will see the transformation of the Art Gallery, Cowdray Hall and Memorial Hall through significant investment in the fabric of the buildings, new exhibition and display galleries and improved facilities for visitors.
Aberdeen City Council has already committed £10million from its Non-Housing Capital Fund towards the overall cost of the project, and there will be a public and philanthropic fundraising campaign for the remaining £10million required.
The project involves new educational facilities to create opportunities for all to learn more about the arts, and the planned sensitive upgrading of the Cowdray Hall will create a new performance space.
The Memorial Hall will also be carefully treated to reflect both its role as a space for quiet contemplation and as a civic space to honour the sacrifices made on behalf of the community.
Interior plans include the creation of 21 gallery spaces in place of the existing 11,500sqm space in which to showcase international-quality exhibitions, and a community gallery in a new wing at the rear of the building. Exterior plans involve removing the pitched roofs and skylights behind the parapets of the main building and adding a new storey of accommodation for temporary galleries and a learning zone.
Aberdeen City Council's Deputy Leader Councillor Marie Boulton said, "The formal hand over of Aberdeen Art Gallery's keys to contractors McLaughlin & Harvey of Belfast is a key milestone in this multi-million pound redevelopment project. Through significant investment in the fabric of the buildings we will have new exhibition and display galleries and improved facilities for visitors. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to achieve something really special for Aberdeen and by rejuvenating and improving these much loved buildings, we will create a world-class cultural centre which will celebrate art and music for all."
Michael Kieran, McLaughlin & Harvey Construction Director, said, "We are delighted to have been awarded this prestigious contract and look forward to working closely with the Design Team and Aberdeen City Council to restore and improve this facility. The finished building will provide the city with an Art Gallery that will rank amongst the best in its class."