The Wallace Collection

Wallace Collection

Re-presenting the Great Gallery and re-introducing natural daylight

London & South East
The Director & Trustees of the Wallace Collection
  • RICS Heritage Awards 2022
  • RICS Social Impact Awards 2020

Purcell's brief was to reconfigure the environmental control while reducing its visual impact, re-introduce conservation controlled natural daylighting and re-present the Wallace Collection's Great Gallery.

The Wallace Collection's Great Gallery showcases many familiar artworks including Hals’ 'The Laughing Cavalier', Rubens’ 'The Rainbow Landscape', Poussin’s 'A Dance to the Music of Time', and Velázquez’ 'The Lady with a Fan'.

Described as “the greatest picture gallery in Europe” by art historian Kenneth Clark, the Great Gallery was built by Sir Richard Wallace between 1872-5.

The gallery had been subject to many alterations since the 19th century, the boldest being the introduction of air conditioning in the 1970s, which blocked out natural light. The gallery arrangement became dominated by large air grilles with artificial lighting. The gallery's overall appearance became dated and the finishes, particularly the wall fabric, faded.

The gallery was reconstructed within the retained external walls and reused the roof’s original iron structure. This included work to the external facade of the overall building.

Purcell referenced the ceiling’s original coved form with its delicate trellis plasterwork ornamentation and Pompeian red silk for the walls was specially woven to a historically appropriate pattern.

Construction work was carried out while the building remained open to the public.

The Wallace Collection, London

The new ceiling reintroduces natural daylight, which is controlled by sensors and automatic blinds.
The completed scheme minimises the visual impact of the environmental control equipment and introduces conservation-controlled LED. Ventilation extract is handled through the reveals of oculi windows.

The Wallace Collection, London

Location: London
Client: The Director & Trustees of the Wallace Collection
Building period: Georgian and Victorian
Listing status: Grade II* listed
Construction value: £3m
Awards: FIS Contractors Awards 2015 — Gold Judge’s Award