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Autumn search planned for architect to expand National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery
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The National Portrait Gallery will begin its search for an architect to deliver a £35.5 million expansion later this year

The prestigious venue in Trafalgar Square, London has announced it will hold an ‘open procurement exercise’ to select a design team for the major commission which will see its East Wing reopened to the public by 2022.

Up to six teams will be shortlisted and invited to participate in a ‘more detailed’ procurement evaluation following a call for expressions of interest and a pre-qualification questionnaire which are due to be published in the autumn.

The Inspiring People: Transforming our National Portrait Gallery project represents the largest upgrade in the Ewan Christian-designed 1896 building’s history and comes 17 years after Dixon Jones’ Ondaatje Wing opened, increasing exhibition spaces by 50 per cent.

Earlier this month, the National Portrait Gallery received £9.4 million from Heritage Lottery Fund towards the estimated £35.5 million cost of the redevelopment. The project – due to start on site in 2020 and complete by 2022 – will involve a comprehensive re-display of the museum’s collection and the refurbishment of existing areas.

Once complete, the scheme will deliver 20 per cent more exhibition space across the gallery along with an upgraded main entrance, new learning and studio spaces.

Gallery director Nicholas Cullinan said: ‘The National Portrait Gallery is the nation’s family album, from Katherine Parr to Martin Parr. Understanding our national identity is more relevant now than ever, so we have an urgent job to do.

‘We are very grateful for the vital support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, which crucially represents, as we do, people nationwide. This major grant enables the biggest transformation the Gallery has ever undertaken.

‘We are going to make ourselves an essential place for everyone to feel part of the culture they have been born into, chosen, or are seeking to understand, to become a truly national gallery for all.’

HLF chair Peter Luff said: ‘The National Portrait Gallery is loved and admired not just for its wonderful collection but also as a centre for serious debate about how best we engage with our national identity. Thanks to this investment of £9.4m from The National Lottery, the National Portrait Gallery can begin an extensive modernisation programme.

‘We are particularly pleased that this funding will also be used to increase the Gallery’s reach across the UK by working closely with a number of cultural institutions, from South Wales to Sheffield, and with a focus on young people, families and those with special needs.’

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