The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Inspiring People: Transforming Our National Portrait Gallery

Inspiring People: Transforming Our National Portrait Gallery

Inspiring People: Transforming Our National Portrait Gallery

Inspiring People is a major transformation which will see the National Portrait Gallery’s biggest ever development since our historic building opened in 1896. Through this project we will deepen the understanding and enjoyment of our remarkable Collection, sharing it with the widest and most diverse audience possible.

Alongside the capital works Inspiring People will see the Gallery’s most extensive programme of activities to engage people onsite, online and across the UK. We will do this by building on existing partnerships and creating new ones, in locations from Plymouth and Belfast to Sheffield and Southampton. We will expand our schools programme, create hundreds of volunteering and placement opportunities, deliver creative projects for young people and community groups with our regional partners, improve our digital resources, and launch a new skills sharing network for UK Museums.

Creating a New Entrance

The proposed new entrance and forecourt on the North Façade of the Gallery will create a more welcoming and generous entrance and relieve the existing congested visitor access. Three windows will be altered to form doorways leading to a new, open entrance hall, which will link with the Ondaatje Wing Main Hall and better connect the building.  The proposed forecourt is designed to be a high quality civic space for both the public and Gallery visitors. Drawing on the history of the building, the forecourt floor design features a contemporary interpretation of the ‘fan pattern’ which runs through the Gallery’s original mosaic floors, creating continuity between the old and the new.

Redisplaying our Collection

The project provides the unique opportunity to re-display the entire Collection as well as upgrade the gallery spaces, while celebrating the existing architecture and decorative features. Maintaining a chronological approach, this comprehensive top-to-bottom re-hang will display works that are relevant to a wider range of audiences and present missing or hidden stories from British history. Set amongst the Gallery’s best-loved paintings will be more works from our collection of 250,000 photographs, ranging from 1840 to the present day.

Reopening the East Wing

The East Wing of the Gallery, part of the original 1896 building, will be reopened to the public. This includes converting what is currently office space back into stunning top-lit galleries on the first floor. The ground floor and basement levels will be refurbished, providing a flexible gallery and social space with its own dedicated entrance and the extension of our brick vaulted Portrait Café.

Establishing a Learning Centre

Inspiring People will transform the quality of education provision at the Gallery through the creation of a much-improved Learning Centre. The new Centre will increase the Gallery’s learning spaces from one studio to three. Each studio will have specialist equipment and breakout space, offering a better learning experience for schools, families, young people, community groups and adult learners.