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The National Gallery Reveals Renovation Plans for 200th Birthday

To celebrate 200 years since its foundation in 1824, the National Gallery is planning a program of inspirational exhibitions and outreach around the country and around the world, under the banner NG200. This will also include the renovation of its Trafalgar Square buildings in order to improve the ‘Welcome’ it provides; the visitor’s arrival experience through security, way finding and non-collection areas, with new orientation and information spaces.

The National Gallery seeks an architect-led multi-disciplinary design team to deliver the £25 – 30 million (construction value) project. The project will be phased over five years, with an initial phase timed to deliver by May 2024.

A plan of the National Gallery, the red line indicates the scope of the project. (Image: The National Gallery London)

The brief for the project includes sensitive interventions to the Grade I listed post-modern Sainsbury Wing to reconfigure the ground floor entrance and upgrade the visitor amenities. New spaces, providing a welcome experience befitting a world-class institution, promoting health and well-being with well-planned respite spaces and meeting the expectations of 21st-century visitors will be created. Underpinning the brief is the desire to create healthy, sustainable, and accessible spaces and an environment that is open and inclusive where visitors can relax as they plan their visit to the museums art collections.

A new Research Center, likely to be housed in the historic Wilkins Building, will support the Gallery’s vision of becoming a world leader in research into historic painting, and communicate its work as a global thought leader by creating a powerful resource for studies into art history, digital humanities, conservation, and heritage science. It will be a resource for everyone interested in studying art, from students to international academics. Furthermore, spaces for events and gathering will be included to reduce the Gallery’s dependence on public funding by self-generating income.

The successful team will also be asked to re-imagine the public realm immediately outside the Sainsbury Wing and along the northern edge of Trafalgar Square to improve the presence of the building in its context and create a more attractive and enjoyable setting for visitors and the public.

Trafalgar Square (Photo (c) Duncan Phillips)

The selection of a design team will take place in two stages. The first is an open, international call for architect-led, multi-disciplinary design teams to register their interest and demonstrate the relevant skills and experience. A shortlist of up to five teams will then be asked to submit details of their approach to the design and delivery of the project and will be interviewed by a selection panel. An appointment is expected to be made in July 2021.

Source: National Gallery press release