The National Gallery houses one of the world’s greatest collections of paintings and is a cornerstone of British cultural life. Wright & Wright’s refurbishment of its Lower Galleries was designed to upgrade and enhance a key sequence of display spaces. Devoted to Italian and French paintings from the 15th to 17th centuries, the cruciform-shaped enfilade of five galleries sits next to the main Central Hall of William Wilkins’ famous Neoclassical building on the north side of Trafalgar Square.
In stripping away the 1970s remodelling, the project modernised and elevated the interiors through a sensitive use of materials and attention to the subtle play of light. Essentially, it is an exercise in formal and material refinement, a creation of spaces with a timeless quality that avoids blandness. Working closely with the then director, Nicholas Penny, Wright & Wright devised a series of carefully detailed new elements in black granite, oak and bronze, which discreetly resonate with the original historic interiors.
Wright & Wright are very good. I have been using them for about six years and they have always performed very well. We speak a very similar language.
Head of Buildings and Facilities, The National Gallery
Lighting, environmental control and finishes were coordinated with the Gallery’s curatorial staff to meet exacting technical standards. It is slight of hand stuff, minimal yet sensual, forming an exquisitely neutral backdrop for the visual richness of the paintings. And though it might look effortless, it is the outcome of an innate feeling for the qualities and potential of materials coupled with a forensic attention to detail and execution.