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To celebrate 200 years since our foundation in 1824, we are planning a programme of inspirational exhibitions and outreach around the country and around the world, under the banner NG200. This will also include the completion of an initial phase of works to our Trafalgar Square buildings in order to improve the ‘welcome’ we provide to our millions of visitors we receive each year.

A new welcome for a new chapter in our history

The brief for the project includes sensitive interventions to the Grade I listed Sainsbury Wing to reconfigure the ground floor entrance and upgrade the visitor amenities, creating new spaces that will provide a welcome experience befitting a world-class institution and that meets the expectations of visitors now and in the future.

Alongside this will also be a new Supporters’ House with dedicated spaces for Supporters and Members to meet, relax and get closer to the collection. We will also transform our Learning Centre, allowing us to be far more ambitious with our educational offer and become the nation’s art classroom.

A new Research Centre, likely housed in the historic Wilkins Building, will support our vision of becoming a world leader in research into historic painting, and communicate our work as a global thought leader by creating a powerful resource for studies into art history, digital humanities, conservation, and heritage science.

The architect-led design team 

A team led by Selldorf Architects has been selected to work on a suite of capital projects to mark our bicentenary, with an initial phase to be completed in 2024. Selldorf Architects’ team also includes Purcell, Vogt Landscape, Arup, AEA Consulting, Pentagram, Kaizen and Kendrick Hobbs.

The selection process was run under the Competitive Procedure with Negotiation, in accordance with UK procurement regulations, by Malcolm Reading Consultant.

Where are we now? 

February 2024 - An exciting archaeological discovery!

Following their findings from excavations beneath the Sainsbury Wing and surrounding area, archaeologists from Archaeology South-East (UCL) have revealed that Saxon London's urban centre extended further west than previously known. 

The team released a report from excavations of Jubilee Walk, part of the National Gallery at the north end of Trafalgar Square. Read the press release. 

See some of their behind-the-scenes photos from the excavation:

The archaeological history

The National Gallery created Jubilee Walk – a walkway linking Trafalgar Square and Orange Street (for onward access to Leicester Square) – when it built the Sainsbury Wing in 1991. Before this, it was used for a variety of complex purposes, from King Richard II’s Royal Mews for hunting hawks to stables and even a possible row of houses. The area has been excavated in preparation for building an underground link connecting the Sainsbury Wing to the Wilkins Building, as well as making improvements to the adjacent public realm.

The walled Roman city of Londinium was abandoned by its settlers in the 5th century CE. With the coming of the Saxons the settlement shifted west along the modern area of the Strand. By the 7th century it was known as Lundenwic and was primarily a trading centre with a waterfront. The National Gallery lies to the western end of this settlement; while excavations in the immediate area have found Saxon material previously, this is the first excavation to prove that the urban centre extended this far west.

Archaeologists unearthed a hearth, postholes, stakeholes, pits, ditches and levelling deposits, which initial interpretations suggest represent the reworking of fence lines and evolving property boundaries in this western suburb of Lundenwic. The hearth was radiocarbon dated and revealed a date range between 659-774 AD for the earliest occupation. Above this sequence of Saxon layers were post-medieval walls. The earliest wall was probably built in the 17th or 18th centuries. Archaeologists observed lots of phases of rebuilding of these walls with different building fabrics up until the 19th century.

Join us from 10 May 2024 as we celebrate our Bicentenary - 200 years of bringing people and paintings together