National Portrait Gallery will use £35m revamp to 'diversify' displays
The National Portrait Gallery will use extra space afforded by a £35 million refurbishment to “diversify” its displays.
After being closed for three years, the gallery is set to reopen in June with around 20 per cent more space for its collection of nationally significant portraiture, which includes subjects ranging from Winston Churchill to William Shakespeare.
It is understood that the gallery will use the added room afforded by the multi-million-pound revamp to "diversify" displays, using new spaces to show off more contemporary works depicting or created by people from minority backgrounds.
Nicholas Cullinan, the gallery's director, said the aim was to create “greater variety and richness of what we show and how we show it”, adding that “diversifying the collection and growing the collection is a really fundamental part of that”.
It is understood that additional wings added in the refurbishment will allow the gallery to add more artworks by - or depicting - people in minority groups. Older pieces elsewhere will not be removed.
Mr Cullinan said that an extensive rehang of the collection which has been going on behind the scenes at the gallery aimed “to add to what was already there”, and it is understood displays featuring figures from the Tudor to Victorian periods will remain intact.
The new £5 million Weston Wing will house contemporary pieces as it is understood that it is easier to ensure diversity with modern artworks, compared with those from past centuries.
These contemporary collections will be supplemented in future by new commissions and acquisitions, Dr Cullinan said during an announcement of the NPG’s plans on Wednesday, adding that the gallery would reopen with new dedicated spaces for miniatures, Tudor panel painting, and early photography techniques.
The director also announced that photography would be at the centre of exhibition when the gallery reopens, revealing that pictures taken of The Beatles by Sir Paul McCartney would go on display after the pop star rediscovered them.
The archive of more than 200 photographs shows The Beatles in the early days of Beatlemania, depicting off-guard bandmates as they move from gigs in Liverpool, to London, to appearances on US talks shows.
Mr Cullinan, said the images marked the band’s transition from “the most popular band in Britain to an international cultural phenomenon”.