Arts leaders to advise on vision for art at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

A group with experience in education, the arts and the creative industries has been engaged to advise the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) on the strategic direction of its future arts programme. The group includes members with a background in contemporary art.


Under the Chairmanship of Professor Christopher Breward, Principal of Edinburgh College of Art and Vice Principal (Creative Industries and Performing Arts), University of Edinburgh, this short-term working group has been asked to consider the direction of arts programming in the widest sense across the organisation’s four sites at Inverleith, in Edinburgh; Benmore, Argyll; Logan, Dumfries & Galloway and Dawyck, in the Scottish Borders. In Edinburgh this will involve looking at how best to use both the world-famous Garden landscape and its various buildings, including the John Hope Gateway, Inverleith House and the Glasshouses.


Formed following the Trustees’ decision to no longer dedicate Inverleith House solely to the exhibition of contemporary art, the group has been invited to consider how RBGE can develop an inclusive and high-quality arts programme to inspire and delight a diverse range of visitors. This programme will align with and amplify the mission of RBGE: To Explore, Conserve and Explain the World of Plants for a Better Future. It will also be financially sustainable, allowing RBGE to build longer-term creative alliances and strategic partnerships that will underpin the programme’s delivery and future development.


With input from a range of experts, including from comparable UK and international organisations, the group will work towards a written report to the RBGE Trustees by the end of June. Its first meeting will take place on Tuesday, February 14.


RBGE has also committed to plans for a summer exhibition at Inverleith House, taking the history of the Glasshouses and the development and study of the Living Collection of plants as its starting point. The aim is to draw together new and historical work in a range of media to generate new perspectives, provocations and reflections on the field of creative and botanical endeavour in a local, national and international context.

Welcoming the involvement of Professor Breward, RBGE Regius Keeper Simon Milne MBE said: “RBGE looks forward to drawing on the extensive knowledge and experience of the Working Group to help develop a strategy that informs, inspires and engages in equal measure.  The arts play an important role in our exploration of the beauty, function and power of the natural world and we look forward to establishing a more integrated and sustainable approach to our programmes, building on the many achievements of previous exhibitions and events and exploring opportunities for creative and strategic collaborations.”

Professor Breward added: “I am delighted to be working with a group of highly experienced advisors and look forward to offering proposals that will build on the unique histories, resources and spaces of the RBGE in tandem with the aims set out in RBGE’s mission and Creative Scotland’s Arts Strategy. Inverleith House and the setting of  RBGE’s four sites are an invaluable asset in Scotland’s engagement with art and artists and it is an honour to be tasked with the completion of this vitally important project.”


Consultation with members of the arts community, relevant RBGE staff, Trustees and experts in the fields of arts and science will be an important part of the Group’s work and will be conducted by members of the Group and the Secretariat as agreed at the initial meeting.


Janet Archer, Creative Scotland CEO said: “We are pleased to be part of the Working Group considering the future of arts at RBGE, including Inverleith House’s role in that future. We believe there are opportunities for RBGE to develop an approach to its arts programming that continues to contribute to Scotland’s artistic and creative excellence. Professor Chris Breward is a great appointment as Chair of the Group, we welcome this progress, and we look forward to working with him over the coming weeks.”


The Terms of Reference can be viewed at




For further information please call Shauna Hay on 0131 248 2900/07824 529 028




Members of the Working Group are:

Janet Archer, Chief Executive, Creative Scotland; Patricia Barclay, Convenor, Friends of RBGE; Prof Mary Gibby, Associate, RBGE; Simon Milne MBE, Regius Keeper, RBGE; Diana Murray, Trustee RBGE.



Professor Christopher Breward, Principal of Edinburgh College of Art and Vice Principal (Creative Industries and Performing Arts), University of Edinburgh. (CH)


Fiona Bradley, Director, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; Simon Dessain, Chief Executive, The List ; Jacqueline Donachie, artist; Rachel Hillman, Wellcome Collection;  Lisa Le Feuvre, Head of Sculpture Studies, Henry Moore Institute; Sir John Leighton, Director-General, National Galleries Scotland; Dr Henrietta Lidchi, Keeper of Department of World Cultures, National Museums Scotland; Philip Long, Director, V&A Dundee; Dame Seona Reid DBE, Kirstie Skinner, Director, Outset Scotland; Robert Wilson, Jupiter Artland.


The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a leading international research organisation delivering knowledge, education and plant conservation action in more than 50 countries around the world. In Scotland its four Gardens at Edinburgh, Benmore, Dawyck and Logan attract nearly a million visitors each year. It operates as a Non Departmental Public Body established under the National Heritage (Scotland) Act 1985, principally funded by the Scottish Government. It is also a registered charity, managed by a Board of Trustees appointed by Ministers. Its mission is “To explore, conserve and explain the world of plants for a better future”.





The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)