The National Portrait Gallery Makeover

The National Portrait Gallery Is Under a Makeover Which Costs $52.5 M. and Brings Fresh Air Into This Cultural Institution.

Jun 26, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery. Via Wikipedia


The National Portrait Gallery includes a mixture of several cultural institutions from the world of art, it is a hybrid. It is part Prado, part Madame Tussauds. It contains certain norms, but also freedom. The contents correspond to every special human identity, regardless of the type of art – from painting to architecture.


The Main Entrance – The National Portrait Gallery’s Biggest Makeover Challenge

The National Portrait Gallery
New entrance and forecourt ‘gives meaning to the arched and rusticated facade’. Photograph: Olivier Hess


Its structure debuted in 1896. Overall, it’s a magnificent example of historic infrastructure. As time passed, the building itself endured a number of renovations. The newest and largest of them, which launched just recently, after spending $52.5 million, seems to be the most prosperous. It involves several people working together, which was needed for making the gallery innovative.


The people included in the project are: the architect Jamie Fobert, the heritage experts Purcell, the exhibition designers Nissen Richards, the environmental engineers Max Fordham and the contractors Gilbert-Ash. Relocating the principal entryway is the major change. The aim of the old entrance was to get closer to Trafalgar Square. Now, it points to districts of Soho and Seven Dials.


Tracey Emin
Tracey Emin’s portraits of women. Photograph: Richard Young/Shutterstock


The freshly renovated entryway has bronze doors, that are cast with 45 of Tracey Emin’s female images. The gallery also wanted to balance out its disproportionate inclusion of men. It also allows easy and quick entry into the building’s interior, step-free if desired or necessary, through a rocky, unadorned corridor, with a collection of statues on plinths.

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Details on the Enterior

Jim Stephenson
Photograph: Jim Stephenson


With the use of elevators, an 1890s staircase, an escalator you can travel in various routes into the exhibits. Alternately, you can also stay on the bottom floor and easily access certain artwork in the recently constructed gallery spaces. There is a widespread commitment to opening up spaces, allowing them for air to circulate, and  also fostering an atmosphere of proximity to the outside.


There is a widespread commitment to opening up areas, allowing them for air to circulate,  Also, there is fostering an atmosphere of proximity to the outside. This also gives you views of the vegetation and the sky while reducing the amount of daylight, so that it doesn’t harm the exhibits.


The uncluttered hall, furnished with a cluster of busts on plinths. Photograph: Jim Stephenson


While not simplistic, the new aesthetics are tasteful. They create an open structure for the artwork, as well as the variety of renovated spaces where it is on show.  A gallery like the ones seen in Elizabethan palaces is one that is on the main level and is lengthy, broad, and airy. Nissen Richards used a vibrant color palette of blue, red, green, and purple on the floor above, transforming the galleries into a series of energizing drawing rooms.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.