Thursday 15 June 2017

National Lottery funding secured for major development including new galleries, Learning Centre and the Gallery’s biggest ever programme of national partnerships

The National Portrait Gallery has been awarded funding of £9.4 million from The National Lottery towards a £35.5m transformation programme, which will be the Gallery’s biggest ever development and its most significant project since the opening of its Ondaatje Wing in 2000, it was announced today, Thursday 15 June 2017.

The National Lottery support will go towards the project Inspiring People: Transforming our National Portrait Gallery.  For the first time in the Gallery’s history there will be a comprehensive re-display of the Collection across all the galleries combined with a significant refurbishment, creating twenty per cent more public and gallery spaces. The transformation will also see the Gallery’s most extensive programme of activities nationwide with plans to engage audiences onsite, locally, regionally and online. 

As part of the project, the National Portrait Gallery will restore its East Wing – last used for galleries in the 1980s – to public use; will improve its main entrance and will create a new state-of-the-art Learning Centre with a number of studio spaces. As well as extending activities for schools, families, young people and students, a volunteering programme will be introduced.  

A nationwide schools programme for teaching history, citizenship, literacy and art through portraiture will be underpinned by a large-scale training programme for teachers and through targeted university partnerships with PGCE tutors. With this development programme, the Gallery hopes to reach over 200,000 school children across the UK, and over 300,000 young people including those not in education, employment or training. 

New partnerships with museums and organisations throughout the country, will build on the Gallery’s national presence. In Creative Connections the Gallery will work with museums in Coventry, Manchester, Southampton and Sheffield on a co-curated exhibition programme for young people which will result in a new artist commission and the display of up to 20 portraits from the Gallery’s Photographic Collection at each partner venue.  

In The Photographic Portrait Now the Gallery will work with course leaders at universities and colleges in Plymouth, Farnham, South Wales, Westminster and Bournemouth to connect students to high profile photographers through master-classes.

Citizen UK will explore immigration from the West Indies, China and South Asia through films, sound archives, oral histories, walking tours and photo-galleries. The project will be partnered by archives, libraries and community centres in Lambeth, Kensington, Tower Hamlets, Soho, Southall and Ealing. 

A National Skills Sharing Partnership involving staff at museums in Belfast, Nottingham, Plymouth and Sudbury followed by a further eight locations, will create a learning network involving exchanges, mentoring, seminars and internships at each location with a focus on identity and representation around the theme of  'What is a Portrait?' 

The process of appointing an architect for the Gallery’s building development will begin in the autumn. The Gallery has already embarked on its fundraising with over £7m pledged towards the project. With the HLF’s support, which includes an initial development grant of £900,000, building work is scheduled to start on Inspiring People: Transforming our National Portrait Gallery in 2020. The Gallery aims to reach its target of £35.5m by March 2019 in order to complete the project by 2022.  

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘The National Portrait Gallery is the nation’s family album, from Katherine Parr to Martin Parr. Understanding our national identity is more relevant now than ever, so we have an urgent job to do. We are very grateful for the vital support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, which crucially represents, as we do, people nationwide. This major grant enables the biggest transformation the Gallery has ever undertaken. We are going to make ourselves an essential place for everyone to feel part of the culture they have been born into, chosen, or are seeking to understand, to become a truly national gallery for all.’ 

Sir Peter Luff, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, says: ‘The National Portrait Gallery is loved and admired not just for its wonderful collection but also as a centre for serious debate about how best we engage with our national identity.  Thanks to this investment of £9.4m from The National Lottery, the National Portrait Gallery can begin an extensive modernisation programme.  We are particularly pleased that this funding will also be used to increase the Gallery’s reach across the UK by working closely with a number of cultural institutions, from South Wales to Sheffield, and with a focus on young people, families and those with special needs.’

Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, says: ‘The National Portrait Gallery is one of our finest and most loved art institutions, attracting huge numbers of visitors every year. Thanks to £9.4m of funding from National Lottery players, the gallery will undergo an incredible transformation. By reaching out to thousands of young people across the UK and partnering with museums outside of the capital it will share its unique, world-class collection even wider.’

Kim Mawhinney, Head of Art, National Museums NI, says: ‘Central to the National Portrait Gallery’s development has been its commitment to working closely with organisations throughout Britain and Northern Ireland. To be so closely involved in a development project from the outset has been really important in helping us forge a long term relationship based on sharing skills and collections knowledge both within organisations and in building our audiences and public programmes.’


Breakdown of funding
Total cost of project £35.5m

National Portrait Gallery, London
Founded in 1856, the aim of the National Portrait Gallery, London is ‘to promote through the medium of portraits the appreciation and understanding of the men and women who have made and are making British history and culture, and ... to promote the appreciation and understanding of portraiture in all media’. The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world.

With over 1000 portraits on display across three floors, from Elizabeth I to David Beckham, the Gallery has something for everyone. Artists featured range from Holbein to Hockney, and the Collection includes work across all media, from painting and sculpture to photography and video. As well as the permanent displays, the Gallery has a diverse and ever-changing programme of exhibitions and events that promote an understanding and appreciation of portraiture in all forms. @NPGLondon

Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife.  @heritagelottery.  Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported and #NationalLottery.

For further Press information, please contact: Neil Evans, Media Relations Manager, National Portrait Gallery
Tel. 020 7 312 2452 (not for publication) / Email [email protected]
Laura McKechan, Senior Communications Manager, National Portrait Gallery
Tel. 020 7 321 6620 (not for publication) / Email [email protected] 

For further Press information on HLF, please contact: Katie Owen, Senior Media Manager, Heritage Lottery Fund
Tel: 020 7 591 6036 (not for publication) Email: [email protected]  

For further Press information on DCMS, please contact: Alex Hemming, Communications Officer, DCMS
Tel: 020 7 211 6630 (not for publication) Email: [email protected]

To download press releases and images, please go to:

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