The National Portrait Gallery in London has set the date it will reopen three years on from its closure due to renovation.
The public can enjoy the improvements, the biggest development since the building in St Martin’s Place, close to Trafalgar Square, opened in 1896, on June 22, 2023.
It has been closed since 2020 to refurbish the building, redisplay the collection, create new gallery spaces and improve access with a new entrance.
Dr. Nicholas Cullinan, the director of the National Portrait Gallery, said: “As we approach 2023, the countdown to our reopening after the largest and most comprehensive redevelopment in our history has well and truly begun.
“I am thrilled to be able to announce the date that our new doors will open to the public, and we eagerly look forward to welcoming visitors back into our transformed Gallery in June.”
As part of the development, a new Blavatnik Wing will host more than 100 years of British portraits in nine galleries as part of the gallery’s Inspiring People project.
Paintings of naturalist Charles Darwin, and writers Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, the Bronte sisters, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and others will help visitors to explore society and culture in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Painters include artists Sir John Everett Millais, George Frederic Watts, John Singer Sargent, Laura Knight, Gwen John, and Lucian Freud
A new ticket booth, situated on Irving Street alongside the Gallery’s new north-facing forecourt, is being created along with a spacious 1,700 square-foot area below ground level.
The project also includes a comprehensive re-display of the Gallery’s Collection – from the Tudors to now – combined with a complete refurbishment of the building, restoring historic features, as well as enhancing accessibility and surrounding areas through the new Ross Place entrance.
The Gallery’s East Wing will also be restored to public use as the Weston Wing, and there will be a new learning center with specialist equipment, studios, and breakout spaces.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund and donations from funds and foundations helped transform the gallery.
When the gallery closed, staff worked on Coming Home, a project that returned more than 30 portraits, including of writer Virginia Woolf, grime star Stormzy and athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill, to their respective hometowns – Lewes, Croydon and Sheffield.
Hundreds of portraits were also shared internationally with museums and galleries in Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, South Korea, Taiwan and the US.