Aberdeen City Council’s culture boss has spoken of her pride at “giving the public back their art gallery” as the redeveloped attraction finally opened its doors at the weekend.
Thousands streamed through the doors of the gallery on Saturday and yesterday to get their first glimpse inside the building since it closed to the public in 2015.
Free tickets for the opening days were quickly snapped up when they were released in September, with more than 5,500 members of the public booking places for the opening two days.
The council’s culture spokeswoman Marie Boulton said: “It’s not the council’s gallery, it’s everyone’s gallery.
“I think people will come in and get that familiar hug of things they will recognise, from the granite pillars to the Cowdray Hall to the Memorial Hall.
“Then they’ll look up and they’ll get this amazing sense of excitement that will run through them when they see the floor we have added, the beautiful features that are around and the amazing collections now being exhibited.
“I’m so proud and privileged to be able to hand this gallery back fit for the next generation of art-goers.”
She said it was hoped to transform the type of visitors the gallery attracts.
Ms Boulton said: “It’s there for people who appreciate art at a very high level but there’s lots of things here for children, from drawing pads to interactive things, to those who just want to browse, including the lovely coffee shop.
“There is something for everyone and I just hope the people of Aberdeen feel we have done justice not just to the building but absolutely celebrate all the new additions as well.”
The £34.6 million redevelopment involved the restoration and modernisation of the grade A-listed building with a new second level to increase the number of spaces for displays.
The “striking” top floor will house the BP Galleries, which will host three national and international touring exhibitions each year.
Visitors flocked to the historic venue, with crowds gathering ahead of the doors opening on Saturday, where they were greeted to the sounds of a piper as they made their way inside the revamped space.
The ribbon to the venue was officially cut by Ms Boulton and Christine Rew, art gallery and museums manager, before the first members of the gallery made their way inside.
Young and old could be seen enjoying the exhibits throughout the day.
Many pointed to the venue feeling more spacious and easier to get around, while others said they were pleased to see familiar favourites back up on the walls.
Ms Rew, who has helped show groups around the venue during preview events all week, said it was “absolutely fantastic” to welcome the public back inside the building.
She said: “The initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive throughout the various preview activities we’ve had over this week.
“Even half an hour into opening, I could hear people say how amazing it is.”