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The National Gallery appoints Selldorf Architects-led design team to work on NG200 project

Issued July 2021

The National Gallery has today (14 July 2021) announced that a team led by Selldorf Architects has been selected to work on a suite of capital projects to mark its 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.

Image: Annabelle Selldorf Photo by Harry Mitchell

Based in New York, Selldorf Architects has considerable experience within the arts and culture sector across the UK, Europe, and the US. It counts among its current and previous clients: the Frick Collection, Luma Arles, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Neue Galerie New York, the Clark Art Institute, David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, Frieze Masters, and the Venice Art Biennale.

The Selldorf Architects-led team will work with the National Gallery to complete the initial phase of works to its Trafalgar Square buildings to greatly improve the ‘welcome’ it provides to the millions of visitors it receives each year. This will include remodelling parts of the Sainsbury Wing and the public realm, and the provision of a new Research Centre. These sensitive interventions will be pivotal in reshaping the National Gallery for its third century and the next generation of visitors.

Over the coming months, the approach submitted by Selldorf Architects’ team will be refined into a comprehensive brief alongside the National Gallery team, and extensive engagement and liaison with external stakeholders will begin.

Underpinning the brief is the desire to create healthy, sustainable, and accessible spaces and an environment that is open and inclusive where visitors can feel welcome and reflect as they plan their visit to one of the world’s finest art collections. Following a year of unprecedented challenges due to Covid-19, the National Gallery wants to build on its strength, inventiveness, and relevance to play a vital role in the nation’s recovery story.

A major part of the National Gallery’s Bicentenary celebrations will be a programme of inspirational exhibitions and outreach around the country and around the world, under the banner NG200. The National Gallery plans to engage the whole of the UK with the Gallery’s collection, demonstrating itself as a national institution at the heart of national life. An extensive programme of digital engagement will also be leveraged to extend and redefine the Gallery’s influence as a global digital institution.

Commenting on the appointment of Selldorf Architects, Director of the National Gallery, Dr Gabriele Finaldi said:

‘We are delighted to appoint Selldorf Architects as the design-team partner for NG200. Throughout the selection process, Selldorf Architects demonstrated a real understanding of our ambitions as well as sensitivity to the heritage of our existing buildings. However, the talent and tenacity demonstrated at all levels by each of the six shortlisted teams was remarkable. I would like to thank all those involved, particularly the judging panel who have guided us through the selection process.

The capital projects form the first stage of our Bicentenary celebrations and are essential in building the foundations of the Gallery’s future. Working alongside Selldorf Architects, we will develop and deliver a detailed brief that will be the framework through which we consolidate our role as the nation’s gallery.

The next five years will be pivotal in fighting our way out of the crisis of Covid-19. We recognise the catastrophic impact this has had on so many, and particularly on arts and culture institutions’ visitor numbers. It will take time for these to return to 2019 levels, but there is hope on the horizon and arts and culture will be crucial in the healing of our country. We plan to build on our strengths, respond to challenges and opportunities, and forge a pathway to the National Gallery of the future – for the nation and for the world.

Our Bicentenary in 2024 is a key moment in this creation of the new National Gallery. We will demonstrate the values we hold, and the value we create as we enter our third century with renewed and bold ambition, and perhaps most importantly – hope.’

Annabelle Selldorf, founding Principal of Selldorf Architects, added:

‘It is an honour to be appointed to work alongside the National Gallery on its NG200 project. This is a significant opportunity for an iconic cultural institution to reflect on its ambitions for the future and drive forwards an innovative, bespoke brief that befits its many visitors. The National Gallery is home to one of the most exceptional collections of art in the world and has often led the way for other institutions globally.

Our team will work sensitively and thoughtfully with the National Gallery, guided by its vision for a Gallery of the future that is inspiring, sustainable, and truly inclusive.’

The selection process was run under the Competitive Procedure with Negotiation in accordance with UK procurement regulations by Malcolm Reading Consultants. The five other shortlisted teams were led by: Asif Khan, Caruso St John Architects, David Chipperfield Architects, David Kohn Architects, and Witherford Watson Mann Architects.

In addition to the Executive team and Trustees of the National Gallery, several independent panellists were appointed to the judging panel to select an architect-led design team. These were: Edwin Heathcote, architecture critic and author; leading structural engineer Jane Wernick CBE FREng; and Ben Bolgar, Senior Design Director for the Prince’s Foundation.

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 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

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Selldorf Architects is a 65-person architectural design practice founded by Annabelle Selldorf in New York City in 1988. The firm creates public and private spaces that manifest a clear and modern sensibility to enduring impact. Since its inception, the firm’s design ethos has been deeply rooted in the principles of humanism at every scale and for every condition, Selldorf Architects designs for the individual experience. As a result, its work is brought to life – and made complete – by those who use it. The firm offers services in architectural design, exhibition design, master planning, interior design, landscape concepts and strategic planning.

Clients include cultural institutions and universities such as: the Frick Collection, Luma Arles, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Shaker Museum, the Clark Art Institute, Neue Galerie New York, and Brown University.  In addition, the firm has created numerous galleries for David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, and Thaddaeus Ropac among others, and designed exhibitions for Frick Madison, Frieze Masters, Gagosian Gallery and the Venice Art Biennale.

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