The National Portrait Gallery in London will get a new wing as part of its refurbishment when it reopens in 2023.
The Blavatnik Wing will host more than one hundred 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, and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor will help visitors to explore society and culture in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The portraits, which also include suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, nurse Mary Seacole and prime ministers William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli, date from 1840 to 1945.
Painters of the portraits include artists Sir John Everett Millais, George Frederic Watts, John Singer Sargent, Laura Knight, Gwen John, and Lucian Freud.
Dr. Nicholas Cullinan, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said they are “incredibly grateful” to British-American industrialist-turned-media mogul Sir Len Blavatnik and his wife for the £10 million gift for helping the project and the gallery’s “future development.”
“I would also like to thank the American Friends of the National Portrait Gallery for their involvement and support,” Dr. Cullinan added. “The Blavatnik Wing…will be at the heart of our redevelopment.”
Sir Leonard Blavatnik, said: “The Blavatnik Family Foundation is proud to support the National Portrait Gallery, and we look forward to next year’s opening.”
The gallery said the gift from the Blavatnik Family Foundation will also help support the biggest development since its building in St Martin’s Place opened in 1896.
A new ticket booth, situated on Irving Street alongside the Gallery’s new north-facing forecourt, will be built.
A spacious 1,700-square-foot area below ground level will also be created.
The project 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 Portrait Gallery is set to reopen in 2023.