The National Gallery reveals initial proposals for NG200 project as public consultation starts
Issued February 2022
The National Gallery has today (18 February 2022) revealed its initial proposals for works 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 launching a suite of capital projects that will benefit all those who visit the Gallery and access its services.
Proposed works to the Gallery’s Grade I listed building include the remodelling of parts of the Sainsbury Wing, the public realm, and the provision of a new Research Centre and ‘Members House’ within the Wilkins Building. These sensitive interventions will be pivotal in reshaping the National Gallery for its third century and the next generation of visitors. The initial proposals, now out for public consultation, have been driven by the desire to futureproof the Gallery. Looking to the next 200 years, it is vital to improve the efficiency of the Gallery’s buildings to reduce its carbon footprint, to encourage diverse audiences as well as prioritising visitors’ comfort and wellbeing.
The initial concepts see the entrance to the Sainsbury Wing made more visible and easier to navigate, as well as removing the build-up of queues of people outside waiting to enter. Inside the Sainsbury Wing, opening up the space and aligning it more clearly with other significant parts of the building, such as the staircase and the second-floor gallery spaces, is a priority.
Creating a revived foyer for the Sainsbury Wing that is less cramped as well as replacing areas of dark glass will deliver more natural light and improve views out to Trafalgar Square and beyond. Previously under-used spaces at ground floor level within the Sainsbury Wing and Wilkins Building will be reimagined, improving public access and facilitating a new Research Centre. The reconfiguration of internal areas of the Wilkins Building to house a dedicated Members space is also proposed, designed to increase the commercial sustainability of the Gallery long-term. We are not proposing to make any changes to the gallery spaces in the Sainsbury Wing
New routes within the Gallery will enhance the visitor journey; at present, the only public connection between the Sainsbury Wing and the Wilkins Building is at the gallery level (level 2). The creation of a new connection at the lower level (level 0) will mean visitors no longer need to backtrack through the Sainsbury Wing to exit and will provide them with the option to determine their own path through the Gallery.
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.
Commenting on the launch of public consultation, Director of the National Gallery, Dr Gabriele Finaldi said: 'The National Gallery was established nearly 200 hundred years ago. To celebrate our upcoming 200th anniversary in 2024, the Gallery is planning an exciting 12-month programme of activity. As part of this, we are also investing in the Sainsbury Wing and Wilkins Building and exploring how we can improve the experience for all visitors to the Gallery.
Covid-19 had a catastrophic impact on the arts and culture sector. As we move beyond the pandemic, it’s vital that we build on our strengths and, respond to challenges and opportunities. Underpinning these proposals is a concrete desire to build the foundations of the Gallery’s future, consolidating our role as the nation’s art gallery.
With millions of visitors each year, it’s vital that we futureproof our buildings and reinvigorate the public realm immediately surrounding them. We are delighted to launch the first stage of public consultation and welcome feedback on these early concept designs.'
Annabelle Selldorf, founding Principal of Selldorf Architects, commented on the initial proposals: 'It is extremely exciting to be able to share our initial design concepts with the public and stakeholders today. The entire design team has worked very hard alongside the National Gallery to develop a brief that celebrates the Gallery’s historic setting, whilst also providing a better, more welcoming and inclusive experience for visitors.
The development of a new and truly accessible Research Centre, open to anyone interested in studying and learning more about art, as well as opening up the spaces of the ground floor and bringing more light into the Sainsbury Wing, are primary examples of this.
The Gallery is able to make a positive impact on the immediate external spaces surrounding it. The initial proposals developed with Vogt Landscape consider how to enliven this portion of public realm, creating a new square and connections that aim to bring joy and delight to those who experience them.
We will work collaboratively with the public and key stakeholders on these early concept designs through the consultation process, guided by the National Gallery’s vision to create a Gallery of the future that is inspiring, sustainable, and inclusive.'
Further information on the initial proposals can be found here.
Selldorf Architects’ team includes Purcell, Vogt Landscape, Arup, AEA Consulting, Pentagram, Kaizen, L’Observatoire and Kendrick Hobbs. The initial phase of works is set to be completed by 2024.
In-person drop in events will be held at the Sainsbury Wing, at the National Gallery, WC2N 5DN on:
- Wednesday 2 March, 4–8pm
Thursday 3 March, 10am–2pm
Saturday 5 March, 12–4pm
A webinar is also taking place via Zoom on Thursday 10 March, 6–7.30pm. Register your interest on the NG200 website here.
Notes to editors
The National Gallery
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 nationalgallery.org.uk
YouTube The National Gallery
Selldorf Architects is a 70-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.
Publicity images can be obtained from https://press.nationalgallery.org.uk/
Tracy Jones, the National Gallery, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Isabelle Finn / Sarah Rawlings, London Communications Agency (LCA)
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