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£9.4m grant for National Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery, London has received a full grant of £9.4 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for Inspiring People, the Gallery’s biggest ever development since the building in St Martin’s Place opened in 1896. The Gallery’s successful round two application for a grant of £8.5 million follows initial development funding of £900,000 awarded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2017 to enable the Gallery to develop detailed plans.

Inspiring People will see a transformed National Portrait Gallery, including a comprehensive re-display of the Gallery’s Collection from the Tudors to now across 40 refurbished galleries, combined with a significant refurbishment of the building, restoring historic features, creating a new and more welcoming visitor entrance and public forecourt on the building’s North Façade, and enhancing the Gallery’s accessibility. 

In addition to the work at St Martin’s Place, Inspiring People will also see the Gallery’s most extensive programme of activities nationwide with plans to engage audiences onsite, locally, regionally and online. Activity includes a UK-wide schools programme for teaching history and art through portraiture, new partnerships with museums and organisations throughout the country, and a national skills-sharing collaboration with other museums and galleries. In Creative Connections the Gallery will work with museums in Coventry, Manchester, Southampton and Sheffield on a co-curated exhibition programme for young people which will result in a new artist commission and the display of up to 20 portraits from the Gallery’s Photographic Collection at each partner venue.

The Gallery has now secured £32.3m of its £35.5m fundraising target. This includes the £9.4m grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and a £6.5 million grant from the Trustees of the Garfield Weston Foundation towards the creation of a new public wing.   

The Gallery launched the Make History fundraising campaign in January 2019 to help secure funds for the project. Members of the public can support the appeal in several ways including helping to fund new mosaics, which will form part of Jamie Fobert's design, or adopting one of 18 original stone busts on the exterior of the building. The roundels feature the founders of the Gallery as well as eminent portrait artists, biographical writers and historians including Hans Holbein the Younger.

The Gallery aims to reach its target of £35.5m this autumn in order to complete the project by 2023. Westminster City Council Planning Committee granted planning permission and listed building consent in April 2019 and building work is scheduled to start in summer 2020.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery said: “We are delighted to have secured the full award of £9.4 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and are extremely grateful to National Lottery players across the UK for this. Their support brings us much closer to realising our goal of transforming the National Portrait Gallery to fulfil our role as the nation’s family album. This generous grant will enable us to share our unique Collection in new and innovative ways that will bring to life British history and culture to the widest and most diverse audiences possible across the UK.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players the National Portrait Gallery is set to embark on an exciting new chapter for its collection and audiences. The Fund’s substantial investment will enable a major redevelopment, transforming access to the collections onsite, online and across the UK through its partnership programme. It will ensure as many people as possible can learn the stories behind the faces of the well-known, and yet to discover, people who have helped to shape our lives.

“It’s the National Lottery’s 25th birthday this year, in that time players have raised £7.9 billion for projects saving and sharing our heritage – an incredible funding story and one we are delighted now includes the National Portrait Gallery.”

Arts Minister, Helen Whately, said: "This is fantastic news for the National Portrait Gallery. Thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, more visitors will be able to experience this collection on site, online, and in towns and cities across the UK through this fantastic transformation."    

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