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Purcell, working in partnership with Jamie Fobert Architects, has submitted plans to transform the National Portrait Gallery. The transformation will be the Gallery’s biggest development since the building opened in 1896. Designs were unveiled to coincide with the Gallery’s launch of Make History — a public appeal to raise funds for the £35.5 million project.

The re-development, part of the gallery’s Inspiring People program, will consist of a substantial refurbishment of the building, restoring historic features and creating a new and more welcoming visitor entrance and public forecourt on the building’s North Façade.

A complete re-display and re-interpretation of The Gallery’s collection will also be undertaken across 40 refurbished galleries. The Gallery’s East Wing of the original building will return to public use as the brand-new Weston Wing — increasing public gallery space by about twenty percent. The new Weston Wing will incorporate retail and catering facilities as well as a Learning Studio for visitors, complete with studios, breakout spaces and high-quality practical facilities.

The public can support the project by helping to fund new mosaics, which will be incorporated into the forecourt floor design, or adopting one of 18 original stone busts on the exterior of the building.

The Inspiring People Project proposals are based on design confidence that has been accumulated through a rigorous understanding of the building’s history and a sensitive approach to a wide range of contextual attributes. Purcell are delighted to have contributed to this thorough understanding of the gallery’s spatial order and its place in the city. Through this Jamie Fobert Architects’ skilful set of proposals acknowledge the building’s past and better prepare it for its future.

Liz Smith, Partner

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