The National Gallery reveals major upgrade | Sainsbury Wing reimagined

Illustration of the proposed outdoor space outside the Sainsbury Wing and on Trafalgar Square. Image courtesy of Selldorf Architects

The first visuals of the proposed world-class remodelling of the National Gallery and Sainsbury Wing by Selldorf Architects have been unveiled. 

Plans to future proof the Sainsbury Wing and the public realm, and to create a new Research Centre and Members House in the Wilkins building, tie in with the National Gallery’s NG200 project that marks its Bicentenary in 2024. 

Proposed works to the Grade I listed building involve sensitive interventions that aim “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 Gallery’s statement informs. 

Inside the Sainsbury Wing, Selldorf Architects have envisioned an open and welcoming foyer with more natural light, and plan to align this space more clearly with other significant parts of the building such as the staircase and second-floor gallery. 

To facilitate a new Research Centre and improve public access, previously under-used spaces at ground floor level within the Sainsbury Wing and Wilkins building will be creatively reimagined. There are no proposed changes to the gallery spaces in the Sainsbury wing, however new routes within the gallery are planned to enhance the visitor journey and create new connections between spaces. 

Annabelle Selldorf, founding Principle of New York-based Selldorf Architects, commented on the initial proposals: “The entire design team has worked very hard alongside the National Gallery to develop a brief that celebrates the Gallery’s historic setting, whilst also providing a better, more welcoming and inclusive experience for visitors.”

“The development of a new and truly accessible Research Centre, open to anyone interested in studying and learning more about art, as well as opening up the spaces of the ground floor and bringing more light into the Sainsbury Wing, are primary examples of this.”

Illustration of the proposed public realm inside the Gallery’s Grade I listed building. Image courtesy of Selldorf Architects

To mark its Bicentenary in 2024, the National Gallery is planning a 12-month diverse programme of exhibitions and events across the UK as part of the NG200 project. You can also find out what’s on at the London Gallery throughout the year online.

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