To recognise this generous gift, the most significant in the Gallery’s history, the first floor of the renowned building will become The Blavatnik Wing, encompassing nine galleries and covering a momentous period in British history, from 1840 to 1945.
The Blavatnik Family Foundation has gifted £10 million to the National Portrait Gallery in support of its Inspiring People project. To recognise this generous gift, the most significant in the Gallery’s history, the first floor of the renowned building will become The Blavatnik Wing, encompassing nine galleries and covering a momentous period in British history, from 1840 to 1945. The floor will exhibit some of the greatest portraits in the Gallery’s Collection and explore society and culture in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The galleries within The Blavatnik Wing will display the portraits of a wide range of historic figures,
such as Charles Darwin, Prime Ministers Gladstone and Disraeli, Mary Seacole, the Brontë sisters,
Virginia Woolf, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Emmeline Pankhurst, and Oscar Wilde. The rooms will also
showcase works by the finest portrait painters of the period, including Sir John Everett Millais, George Frederic Watts, John Singer Sargent, Laura Knight, Gwen John, and Lucian Freud.
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.”
Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, said: “We are incredibly grateful to
Sir Leonard and Lady Blavatnik and the Blavatnik Family Foundation for this historic and
transformative gift, which has provided vital support for our Inspiring People project and initiates the
next stage of our future development in terms of profile and programme. I would also like to thank
the American Friends of the National Portrait Gallery for their involvement and support. I am
delighted to recognise this generous gift through the naming of The Blavatnik Wing, which will be at
the heart of our redevelopment.”
The gift will support the National Portrait Gallery’s biggest development since our building in St
Martin’s Place opened in 1896. 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 the Gallery’s accessibility and surrounding areas
through the new Ross Place entrance.
The designs, by Jamie Fobert Architects working in partnership with Purcell, will also see the return
of the Gallery’s East Wing to public use as the Weston Wing, restoring original galleries and creating
retail and catering facilities. A new Learning Centre will welcome visitors of all ages with specialist
equipment, studios and breakout spaces.
The Blavatnik Family Foundation donation also kick-starts a further phase for Inspiring People,
supporting the purchase of a ticket booth structure, situated on Irving Street alongside the Gallery’s
new north-facing forecourt. A spacious 1,700 square foot area below ground level will provide
opportunities for the Gallery to expand its public footprint and programme in the future.
The National Portrait Gallery is enormously appreciative of the Blavatnik Family Foundation, as well
as other major Inspiring People donors including The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Garfield
Weston Foundation, the Ross Foundation and Art Fund. The Gallery also acknowledges the generous
support received from foundations, individuals and other supporters.
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