Avanti Architects were engaged by the National Gallery as part of a wider team to support the strategic development plan that sets out a coherent and consistent design approach for all the display galleries leading up to the Bicentenary in 2024.
Refurbishing Room 29 provided the pilot to develop this design direction, core to the re-display of the National Gallery collection, for its major 200th birthday.
Room 29 (Grade I Listed) was originally completed in 1930, donated by Sir Joseph Duveen and designed by Sir Richard Allison. The gallery’s two defining features are the barrel vault roof running its entire length and the trapezoidal wall projections which divide the space into three symmetrical bays. The barrel vault ceiling reflects Duveen’s personal taste for the architecture of classical Rome, with the wall projections shaped to both accommodate the historic ventilation system and to maximise hanging space for the collection. Both features are strikingly different to any other architectural treatment in the National Gallery.
Our design celebrates the uniqueness of Gallery 29 and enhances the distinctive features of the space by re-designing the lighting of the barrel vault and laylights, and by using colour and contrast to re-present the alcoves of the gallery. The refurbishment included replacing the patterned wall coverings with a simpler texture, introducing a complimentary colour to the walls, replacing the floor with new solid oak flooring, re-upholstering the furniture and restoring the marble and gilding.
A new lighting system was installed, and the roof glazing and solar control systems were fully refurbished to provide optimum conditions for the display of the Venetian Renaissance art collection.
The major refurbishment of this room was made possible through the generous support of the Wolfson Foundation. Their support has enabled the realisation of this project, breathing life into the newly named Wolfson Gallery.
Refurbishment of Room 29 in the National Gallery
Photographer Jack Hobhouse