Gilbert-Ash hands over picture-perfect National Portrait Gallery redevelopment

7 March 2023: Leading construction and fit-out company, Gilbert-Ash, has successfully completed the largest redevelopment of the National Portrait Gallery’s building since it opened in 1896.

The award-winning company was the main contractor on Inspiring People, a project comprising a significant refurbishment of the building, the creation of public spaces and a new Learning Centre, combined with a re-presentation of the Collection, safeguarding the Gallery’s heritage and creating an enhanced visitor experience. The final stage of Gilbert-Ash’s development will see the creation of a more welcoming visitor entrance and public forecourt, completed in time for the Gallery’s reopening in June 2023.

As part of the redevelopment, Gilbert-Ash has overseen the transformation of the Grade I listed Blavatnik and Weston Wings of the Gallery, which are part of the original building. Works are also underway to create the new Ross Place entrance and forecourt on the North Façade, designed to provide a high-quality space for both the public and Gallery visitors.

The designs, by Jamie Fobert Architects working in partnership with Purcell, encompass a complete re-display and re-interpretation of the Gallery’s Collection, presenting a wider and more diverse selection of portraits, and increasing the long-term financial sustainability of the Gallery.

Additionally, a new Learning Centre has been created to transform the quality of the education services. The improved centre provides three new studios each with specialist equipment and breakout space.

Gilbert-Ash Managing Director, Ray Hutchinson joined National Portrait Gallery's Director, Nicholas Cullinan at the handover ceremony. Ray credited the company's extensive experience in heritage and cultural projects as crucial to the success of the redevelopment.

He said, "We are incredibly proud to have delivered the National Portrait Gallery redevelopment, which has been a true collaboration between our team, the Gallery's stakeholders, and our partners and suppliers.

“Together, we have delivered a world-class facility that respects and celebrates the history and heritage of the building, while also creating exciting new spaces for visitors to explore.

“Now that we have handed this project over, the Gallery’s team will embark on the monumental task of redisplaying over 1,000 portraits from its Collection. It has been a privilege to work on a project of this scale and significance, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on the cultural landscape of London.”

The National Portrait Gallery's Director, Nicholas Cullinan, said, “The countdown to our reopening following the largest and most comprehensive redevelopment in our history has well and truly begun. As we enter into this new chapter, I would like to thank the fantastic team at Gilbert-Ash for all of their hard work and collaboration on the making the Inspiring People project a reality. We eagerly look forward to welcoming visitors back into our transformed building in June.”

The National Portrait Gallery will reopen to the public on 22 June 2023.

Gilbert-Ash has a unique approach to construction, fit-out and refurbishment based on the belief that great buildings come about through hard work, inspired innovation and genuine collaboration. Sustainability is a key focus for Gilbert-Ash with a number of initiatives underway to help the company to drive down its carbon footprint.