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Inspiring People: Transforming Our National Portrait Gallery

Inspiring People: Transforming Our National Portrait Gallery

Inspiring People: Transforming Our National Portrait Gallery

Inspiring People will transform the National Portrait Gallery. Designed by Jamie Fobert Architects and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project comprises a comprehensive re-presentation of the Collection, combined with a significant refurbishment of the building, the creation of new public spaces, a more welcoming visitor entrance and public forecourt, and a new state of the art Learning Centre.

In addition to the work at St Martin’s Place, Inspiring People will also see the Gallery’s most extensive programme of activities nationwide reaching new audiences locally, regionally and online. Activity includes new partnerships with museums, communities and schools across the UK.

In order to complete the redevelopment efficiently and to safeguard visitors, members of staff and the Collection, the Gallery in St Martin’s Place is now closed to the public until spring 2023, while essential building works take place. During this time, hundreds of portraits will travel across the UK as we continue to share our Collection with the nation.

See how we are still inspiring

Proposed new entrance and forecourt at the Gallery will create a more welcoming generous entrance

Creating a New Entrance

The new entrance and forecourt on the North Façade of the Gallery will create a more welcoming and generous entrance and relieve congestion. 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.  This new entrance will be named Ross Place in recognition of the Ross Foundation’s generous support of the Inspiring People project. The new 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.

Find out more about our new entrance

Redisplaying our Collection with mixture of significant portraits from the 16 century to present

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.

The East Wing of the Gallery will be reopened to create more room and showcase more of our works

Reopening the East Wing

The East Wing of the Gallery, part of the original 1896 building, will be reopened to the public as the new Weston Wing, supported by the Garfield Weston Foundation. 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.

Establish a new Learning Centre to offer a better learning experience for all

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.

Establishing a Learning Centre

Connecting with Young People

Connecting with Young People

Inspiring People is enabling the Gallery to engage in new ways with young people and students. Partnerships with schools include Faces and Places, a schools outreach programme in London exploring representation and identity and Picturing History a new digital learning resource, which will enable schools to explore the Collection for curriculum based teaching. The Photographic Portrait Now, is a partnership with universities and photography students, which will create new work and displays and Creative Connections, is a co-curated exhibition programme for young people in Coventry, Southampton, Sheffield and Newlyn.

Working with Communities

Working with Communities

An ambitious programme of nationwide activities will bring the Gallery closer to communities around the country. Citizen UK, a partnership with community groups in Croydon, Ealing, Tower Hamlets and Wolverhampton will explore stories of migration and movement and People Powered, a series of exhibitions created with partners in Brent, Ilford, Hillingdon, Hertfordshire and Teesside, will uncover the experiences of communities involved in creating world class exports. A National Skills Sharing Partnership with museums and galleries around the UK will create a learning network with a focus on the theme ‘What is a portrait?’.

Explore our nationwide programme of activities

Hear from our Director and Architect about our redevelopment

Read our Inspiring People FAQ's


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Black History Month

Take a tour exploring our Collection created by Alayo Akinkugbe for Black History Month in 2020.

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