Inverleith House in Edinburgh, Scotland

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Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh

When architect David Henderson built Inverleith House for Sir James Rocheid of Inverleith and his family in 1774, the building crowned Rocheid’s sprawling estate for the sum total of £4,109. Circa 1820, a portion of his land became the formative grounds of the eminent Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), which expanded to envelope the entire estate in 1877 thanks to a gift from the Crown.

After serving as the official living quarters of the Garden’s Regius Keeper (Director), Inverleith House became the site of the first Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in 1960. The museum subsequently moved to the sprawling estate comprising John Watson’s Institution in the western region of Edinburgh in 1984, and two years later, Inverleith House—named a historic building in 1970—was integrated back into RBGE as a garden-owned exhibition space.

In the 30-plus years that Inverleith House has operated through RBGE, the gallery has hosted a rotating program of landmark shows by some of the biggest names in modern and contemporary art; including German mixed-media artist Isa Genzken, American sculptor John Chamberlain, the irreverent American painter and sculptor Dan Colen, and Swiss painter and sculptor Nicolas Party.

In 2016, the Garden’s attempts to shutter Inverleith House were met with vehement public opposition and a petition bearing more than 10,000 signatures calling for its continuation. The building remains in operation, now with a focus on horticultural specimens and historic botanical artworks.