National Gallery secures resolution to grant planning permission for suite of capital projects coinciding with the Gallery’s Bicentenary
The National Gallery has secured resolution to grant planning permission from Westminster City Council for a series of sensitive adaptations to its buildings on Trafalgar Square to create a world-class welcome to the millions of visitors it receives each year.
To mark its Bicentenary in 2024, the National Gallery will deliver a diverse programme of exhibitions and events across the UK under the banner NG200, as well as completing a suite of capital projects that will benefit all those who visit the Gallery and access its services.
The public’s experience of the Sainsbury Wing will be transformed, alongside major improvements to the Pigott Education Centre; Jubilee and the surrounding public realm. The proposals will also result in a new accessible connection between the Sainsbury Wing and the Wilkins Building and the creation of a new Supporters’ House and Research Centre from underused back-of-house spaces.
These projects will foster sustainability and provide a more inspiring experience for our millions of visitors every year, as well as being more inclusive for people with disabilities and older visitors. The Sainsbury Wing alterations will allow queuing to be brought inside and out of the weather in a newly configured vestibule that’s much easier for people to navigate, and new glass bringing more natural light into the main foyer and improving views out to Trafalgar Square and beyond.
The Sainsbury Wing remains a Grade I listed building, and the proposals by Selldorf Architects’ team balance the very fine quality of the Sainsbury Wing’s existing architecture with the Gallery’s desire to improve our visitors’ experience.
Beyond the buildings, public spaces immediately outside the Gallery will be made more welcoming and accessible. Creating a new public square in front of the Sainsbury Wing is possible by incorporating a previously unused area in the southwest corner of the Wilkins Building to provide a direct accessible entrance to the new Research Centre. Implementing a clearer and more direct pedestrian route along Jubilee Walk will connect Trafalgar Square to Leicester Square, two iconic London spaces.
Selldorf Architects were appointed in July 2021, with a team including Purcell, Vogt Landscape, Arup, AEA Consulting, Pentagram, Kaizen and Kendrick Hobbs. Lawson Ward Studios have designed the new Learning Centre. Early designs were first presented in February 2022, and following feedback received – from frequent visitors to the Gallery and those who have never been before – the Gallery subsequently submitted an application to Westminster City Council in July 2022.
The Sainsbury Wing has been fully decanted of works, with the most popular and significant paintings on display elsewhere in the Gallery. Reopening is scheduled for May 2025.
As well as the experience of visitors to Trafalgar Square, a key focus of the designs has been the desire to futureproof the Gallery. Looking to the next 200 years, it is vital not only to encourage diverse audiences as well as prioritising visitors’ comfort and wellbeing, but also to improve the efficiency of the Gallery’s buildings to reduce its carbon footprint, and ensure the buildings are resilient to the impacts of climate change. The new areas will feature reduced energy demand through daylight and natural ventilation wherever possible; adopt a ‘re-use first’ approach and a commitment to sourcing environmentally sustainable materials; and set and transparently report on ambitious targets for water reduction and a route to net zero carbon.
Director of the National Gallery, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, says, ‘We all miss out when anyone thinks that the National Gallery is not for them. Selldorf Architects’ thoughtful interventions will help to make the Gallery entrance lighter, more accessible, and more visible as a public space. We are delighted that Westminster City Council agrees with us that this transformation of the Gallery’s entrance will improve the experience of visitors to the borough. We look forward to our next steps, and opening up the new Sainsbury Wing entrance, our Supporters’ House, and our Research Centre, at the end of our Bicentenary year. We hope many visitors may step inside for the first time, and those who have come before, can experience a different start to their visit and view of our collection.’
Principal of Selldorf Architects, Annabelle Selldorf, says, ‘The exchange we have had over the last 18-months with all those who care about the Gallery, not just in Westminster, but around the world, is echoed in our plans and its dialogue with the existing buildings. We have retained the essential quality and features of the Sainsbury Wing whilst creating a space and arrival sequence that is welcoming to all.
Notes to editors
The National Gallery is one of the greatest art galleries in the world. Founded by Parliament in 1824, the Gallery houses the nation’s collection of paintings in the Western European tradition from the late 13th to the early 20th century. The collection includes works by Artemisia Gentileschi, Bellini, Cézanne, Degas, Leonardo, Monet, Raphael, Rembrandt, Renoir, Rubens, Titian, Turner, Van Dyck, Van Gogh and Velázquez. The Gallery’s key objectives are to enhance the collection, care for the collection and provide the best possible access to visitors. Admission free. More at www.nationalgallery.org.uk
More information and book tickets for online events at nationalgallery.org.uk
YouTube The National Gallery
Features and film are at nationalgallery.org.uk/stories
National Gallery Membership is the best way to support the work of the Gallery. Not only does each Member enjoy access to all the Gallery has to offer, but also yearlong free entry to exhibitions, priority booking and exclusive events online and in-Gallery. www.nationalgallery.org.uk/membership
Imogen Sebba, NG200 Press Manager, on firstname.lastname@example.org
National Gallery Press Office on 020 7747 2865 or email email@example.com
Publicity images can be obtained from https://press.nationalgallery.org.uk/