Painting a new look Portrait Gallery

Nick Myall
Thursday 01 Feb 2018

The National Portrait Gallery in London plays a unique role in the cultural life of the UK and is embarking on a huge redevelopment

The National Portrait Gallery has appointed Jamie Fobert Architects to lead its £35.5m transformation following an international selection process, it was announced on Thursday 1 February 2018.

The London-based practice will deliver the Gallery’s biggest ever development since the building opened in 1896. This includes creating around twenty per cent more public and gallery spaces, all of which will be refurbished and rehung for the first time, enhancing its entrance and creating a state-of-the-art Learning Centre.

Jamie Fobert Architects’ recent and forthcoming projects include the critically acclaimed extension to Tate St Ives in Cornwall, a new gallery building for Charleston in East Sussex and an extension and reconfiguration of Kettle’s Yard House and Gallery in Cambridge.

Building work on the project, Inspiring People: Transforming our National Portrait Gallery, is scheduled to start in 2020. For the first time in the Gallery’s history there will be a comprehensive re-display of the Collection across all the galleries accompanied by the Gallery’s most extensive programme of activities nationwide.

The Gallery has already embarked on its fundraising and has now secured £21.2m, 60% of its £35.5m fundraising target. With the Heritage Lottery Fund’s support of £9.4m, which includes an initial development grant of £900,000, the Gallery aims to reach its target of £35.5m by March 2019 in order to complete the project by 2022.

Commenting on the project Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, said: ‘We are delighted to have chosen Jamie Fobert Architects to work with us on transforming the National Portrait Gallery. We were impressed by Jamie’s evident love of the Gallery, its Collection and building, and the clear vision he had for how to make the most of these for our visitors, as well as his affinity with art and artists. Following his much lauded work at Tate St Ives, and forthcoming projects such as Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge, this is the perfect time to work with Jamie as we take the National Portrait Gallery into one of the most exciting chapters in its history.’

David Ross, Chair of Trustees, National Portrait Gallery, London, went on to say: ‘On behalf of all our Trustees, we are delighted to endorse the decision to appoint Jamie Fobert Architects for our Inspiring People project. Jamie and his team have already shown an insightful and creative understanding of what we would like to achieve going forward and I am confident that they will be excellent partners to work with at this significant moment for the National Portrait Gallery.’

Jamie Fobert, of Jamie Fobert Architects, said: ‘Housed in a handsome Victorian building, The National Portrait Gallery plays a unique and important role in the cultural life of our nation, charting our past and engaging with the present. I am thrilled to be taking on this project, which will unify the collection and enhance the Gallery’s presence in the city. I am looking forward to working together with the National Portrait Gallery’s dynamic team and our partners Purcell, Max Fordham and Price & Myers.’

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Nick Myall

News editor

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