November 6, 2023
Exhibitions

Inspiring People: TRANSFORMING THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY

There was something quaintly unassuming about the National Portrait Gallery’s former main entrance off Charing Cross Road, which belied the riches within. Hemmed in between the road and The National Gallery, it announced itself with only modest fanfare. It’s hard to imagine many visitors being too nostalgic for the past when greeted with the gallery’s improved entrance. At last, the NPG has a new forecourt more befitting of an institution of its status, and like most successful interventions, it instantly looks comfortable, as if it was always meant to be that way.

The Inspiring People project, launched by the gallery in 2017, was fundamentally about re‑presenting its collection, creating new public spaces with a more welcoming arrival, and extending learning facilities. The project also involved redoubling on regional and community outreach to find new ways of telling the story of Britain’s collective identity. By opening up new internal visitor routes it provokes a sense of self‑determination in the visitor, improving a somewhat autocratic circulation. The NPG is no longer the last bastion of the old guard, but a site of timely and essential collective discourse about who we are, how we got here and where we want to go.

We were incredibly excited to be asked by the design team back in 2019 to assist in the visualisation of the new imagined gallery spaces. Working with state-of-the-art scanning technology and our art exhibition design tool, Voyager Art, we were able to represent an accurate digital model of the entire building.

Planning for such an extensive rehang of a collection started many years prior to the commencement of building works.  The design team used our Voyager system to experiment with curation, colour schemes and the position of walls and plinths. It became incredibly valuable for the team to quickly visualise these spaces and to understand how visitor flow could work throughout each gallery space.

Over the past three years, we have enjoyed seeing how the gallery has been transformed and are proud to have been a part in this process. We continue to work with the NPG helping them plan future exhibitions using Voyager, whilst developing the capabilities of the software to meet the demands of a new audience and the exciting prospects of AI.

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