National Portrait Gallery unveils plans for £35.5m revamp with ‘much more open space’ sparking fears it will attract even MORE floating Yoda street artists
- National Portrait Gallery building is to undergo a £35.5million redevelopment
- Plans would see new entrance, historic features restored, more hanging space
- But it sparked fears increase in space will encourage more ‘floating yodas’
- Architect says there are concerns it could follow National Gallery, with it entrance a popular spot for street performers
Plans for a £35.5million redevelopment of the National Portrait Gallery has sparked fears it could attract too many ‘floating Yoda’ street artists.
The transformation of the building in central London would create a new entrance and restore some of the building’s historic features.
Part of the redesign also includes ‘bringing back to life’ its East Wing to create more hanging space and building a new public forecourt.
But concerns have been raised that it could follow its neighbour the National Gallery, with its entrance on Trafalgar Square becoming popular spot for performers dressed as levitating Yodas and other film characters.
An artists impression of the new plans for a £35.5 million transformation of the National Portrait Gallery in London. Plans include creating a new main entrance, ‘bringing back to life’ its East Wing, which has been closed to the public, and making a public forecourt
This drawing shows the inside of the revamped building. Architect Jamie Fobert said planning authorities wanted to ‘transform the unhappy piece of public realm’
Architect Jamie Fobert said planning authorities agreed that a ‘much more open space’ was needed to ‘transform the unhappy piece of public realm’ which is currently there.
But he admitted: ‘I think Westminster Council have said that there is a constant concern about how many Yodas you can have on that pavement in front of the National Gallery and whether that is something that is going to happen here.’
The transformation will be the biggest since the gallery, which describes itself as the ‘nation’s family album’, opened its doors in 1896.
It has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for the work – with people able to sponsor a piece of mosaic or even adopt one of the busts which adorn the front of the building.
Concerns have been raised that it could follow its neighbour, the National Gallery, with its entrance on Trafalgar Square becoming popular spot for performers dressed as levitating Yodas (pictured) and other film characters
Sponsoring a piece of mosaic in the new forecourt will cost £50, while the busts of the likes of Hans Holbein the Younger, Sir Anthony van Dyck and Sir Joshua Reynolds will set sponsors back £50,000.
National Portrait Gallery director Dr Nicholas Cullinan said the crowdfunding campaign made the plans ‘more democratic and inclusive’.
The ground floor will feature the gallery’s contemporary images of the likes of David Beckham and activist Malala Yousafzai.
Dr Cullinan said: ‘It’s not about dumbing down or making those portraits more obvious; it’s about giving those portraits a fixed home.
The inside of what the building will look like after the revamp. The gallery, whose recent shows have ranged from portraits of Michael Jackson to Cezanne, has already secured £27.4 million of its target, with the biggest donation from the Heritage Lottery Fund
‘We’re not going to favour particular periods, but right now the post-war period and the contemporary is given short shrift.’
He added of the works most often on display: ‘The most common question that visitors ask is ‘Why does nobody here look like me?’
It will also be redisplaying all of the collection in its 40 galleries, providing a ‘greater and more diverse selection of portraits’.
The gallery, whose recent shows have ranged from portraits of Michael Jackson to Cezanne, has already secured £27.4 million of its target, with the biggest donation from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The redevelopment will create around 20 per cent more public space, and building work is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2020.