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The Linbury Lecture 2023

Annabelle Selldorf

Annabelle Selldorf, the founding principal of New York City-based Selldorf Architects delivers the 2023 lecture, exploring the relationship of architecture to art in museum settings

The annual Linbury Lecture invites world-renowned speakers to deliver illustrated lectures exploring themes relating to the National Gallery’s history and collections.

In 2023, we welcomed Annabelle Selldorf, the founding principal of New York City-based Selldorf Architects, the practice appointed to work on our Bicentenary capital projects.

Annabelle delivered her lecture at the Royal Academy of Arts on 1 December 2023. Following the lecture, she was joined in conversation by Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, and answered questions from Vicky Richardson, Head of Architecture at the Royal Academy, and from the audience.

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Beginning with the belief that art has power to transform lives - that it enables us to see ourselves and the world around us with fresh eyes, that it can comfort and challenge us and ultimately contribute to a more humane and just society - Annabelle Selldorf explores the relationship of architecture to art in museum settings. A relationship that has adapted as the role of museums has evolved and expanded, but is still ultimately constrained by realities of scale, proportion, volume, light and materiality.

What are the ways architects respond to specific collections and curatorial narratives to more impactfully enable the direct visitor experience with a work of art? How does one provide literal and figurative space for contemplation and dialogue? By considering the interrelationship of art and architecture it is possible to imagine paths for museums and architects to engage existing and new audiences more impactfully.

Annabelle Selldorf

Annabelle Selldorf is the Principal of Selldorf Architects, a 70-person architectural design practice that she founded in New York City in 1988. Selldorf Architects is leading the design team reimagining the welcome experience at the National Gallery, remodelling parts of the Sainsbury Wing, and the public realm, along with a new Research Centre. The practice has a particular expertise in museum and art related spaces with cultural clients that include The Frick Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Luma Arles, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Gallery, Art Gallery of Ontario, the Clark Art Institute, and Neue Galerie New York.

Born and raised in Cologne, Germany, Selldorf received a Bachelor of Architecture from Pratt Institute and a Master of Architecture from Syracuse University. She is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and serves on the Board of the Architectural League of New York, the World Monuments Fund, the Chinati Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, and has taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and Syracuse University.

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Linbury Lectures
Explore themes relating to the National Gallery's history and its collections with these illustrated transcripts of previous lectures by Laurence des Cars, Professor Salvatore Settis and Professor Joseph Leo Koerner.
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