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The National Gallery Reveals NG200 for 2024

The National Gallery has revealed its initial proposals for works to create a world-class welcome to the millions of visitors it receives each year. 

To mark its Bicentenary in 2024, the National Gallery will deliver a diverse programme of exhibitions and events across the UK under the banner NG200, as well as launching a suite of capital projects that will benefit all those who visit the Gallery and access its services.  

Proposed works to the Gallery’s Grade I listed building include the remodelling of parts of the Sainsbury Wing, the public realm, and the provision of a new Research Centre and ‘Members House’ within the Wilkins Building. These sensitive interventions will be pivotal in reshaping the National Gallery for its third century and the next generation of visitors. The initial proposals, now out for public consultation, have been driven by the desire to futureproof the Gallery.

Looking to the next 200 years, it is vital to improve the efficiency of the Gallery’s buildings to reduce its carbon footprint, to encourage diverse audiences as well as prioritising visitors’ comfort and wellbeing. The initial concepts see the entrance to the Sainsbury Wing made more visible and easier to navigate, as well as removing the build-up of queues of people outside waiting to enter. Inside the Sainsbury Wing, opening up the space and aligning it more clearly with other significant parts of the building, such as the staircase and the second-floor gallery spaces, is a priority.  Creating a revived foyer for the Sainsbury Wing that is less cramped as well as replacing areas of dark glass will deliver more natural light and improve views out to Trafalgar Square and beyond. Previously under-used spaces at ground floor level within the Sainsbury Wing and Wilkins Building will be reimagined, improving public access and facilitating a new Research Centre.

The reconfiguration of internal areas of the Wilkins Building to house a dedicated Members space is also proposed, designed to increase the commercial sustainability of the Gallery long-term. We are not proposing to make any changes to the gallery spaces in the Sainsbury Wing. 

New routes within the Gallery will enhance the visitor journey; at present, the only public connection between the Sainsbury Wing and the Wilkins Building is at the gallery level (level 2). The creation of a new connection at the lower level (level 0) will mean visitors no longer need to backtrack through the Sainsbury Wing to exit and will provide them with the option to determine their own path through the Gallery.  

Beyond the buildings, public spaces immediately outside the Gallery will be made more welcoming and accessible. Creating a new public square in front of the Sainsbury Wing is possible by incorporating a previously unused area in the southwest corner of the Wilkins Building to provide a direct accessible entrance to the new Research Centre. Implementing a clearer and more direct pedestrian route along Jubilee Walk will connect Trafalgar Square to Leicester Square, two iconic London spaces. 

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