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National Gallery receives major donation to transform its setting of Caravaggio and 17th-century Italian paintings

Issued October 2018


The National Gallery has received a £4 million gift from Julia and Hans Rausing towards the refurbishment of its largest and one of its most visited rooms. 

At 34 m long by 12 m wide, Room 32 houses the Gallery’s world-class collection of Italian 17th-century paintings, including works by Caravaggio, Reni, Guercino, Rosa, and Giordano. The room will also eventually become home to the Gallery’s latest acquisition, a self-portrait of Artemisia Gentileschi. 

The upcoming renovation will enable the Gallery to continue to meet international museum standards and preserve the Gallery’s collection of paintings for future generations to enjoy. After the work is completed, the room will be reopened as The Julia and Hans Rausing Room.

Room 32 is part of the first major extension to William Wilkins’ National Gallery by Edward Barry and was completed in 1876. External sun screening blinds on the roof will be upgraded to improve daylight control while suspended picture and environmental lighting will be improved to complement the natural light.  The original, ornate cast-iron floor grilles that can be found in the adjacent Room 34, also designed by Barry, will be replicated.

The Gallery will install a new close-controlled air conditioning system to provide the environmental conditions required to preserve the important collection in this room. This will include a new ducted supply air system connected to the original Barry floor ducts that will flow through the new grilles that will be inset into a new oak floor.

Room 32 will close during October 2018, with the refurbishment expected to start in early January 2019. The plan is for the room to reopen in spring 2020.

During the refurbishment the Gallery intends to have as many of the paintings as possible that are currently in Room 32 on display elsewhere in the building.    

Julia and Hans Rausing have supported the National Gallery over many years, including exhibitions such as 'Strange Beauty – Masters of the German Renaissance' (February - May 2014)  and most recently Mantegna and Bellini.

Hannah Rothschild CBE, Chair of the National Gallery Trustees said,

“The National Gallery is lucky to have such generous and enlightened supporters in Julia and Hans Rausing. Their gift will transform the heart of the building and greatly enhance the visitors' experience and the exhibition of those works.”

Julia and Hans Rausing said:

“Room 32 is an iconic room within the National Gallery and we are delighted to be able to support the renovations. The upgrades will enhance the visitor experience for this magnificent room and we look forward to its reopening.”

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, said:

“We are enormously grateful to Julia and Hans Rausing for enabling us to refurbish the longest and grandest gallery in the building. It is yet another example of their longstanding generosity to the Gallery and their commitment to public enjoyment of the collection.”



Founded by Parliament in 1824, the National Gallery houses the nation’s collection of Western European paintings from the late 13th to the early 20th century. The collection belongs to the nation and serves a diverse public from the UK and overseas. It is open to all, 361 days of the year, free of charge. Between 4 and 5 million people visit the National Gallery each year.

The National Gallery’s collection of 2,300 paintings represents the greatest Western European painters including van Eyck, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Turner, Rembrandt, Degas, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, Rubens, Velázquez, Van Dyck, Titian and Bellini. The Gallery’s key objectives are to enhance the collection, care for the collection and provide the best possible access to visitors.

For press information please contact the National Gallery Press Office or 0207 747 2865