The National Gallery in London first opened its doors to the public on 10 May 1824. Take a peek behind the scenes by watching architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, and the Gallery’s first Associate Artist, Paula Rego, share their Gallery exp
The National Gallery was created when the British government bought 38 paintings from the heirs of John Julius Angerstein in 1823, and it now houses more than 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900 including works by Raphael, Titian and Da Vinci.
The present building on London’s Trafalgar Square is the third to house the Gallery, and the most important addition to the building in recent years has been the Sainsbury Wing. This was designed by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown after the original winners of an architecture competition were fired over clashes about design with the Gallery curators. Venturi and Scott Brown share their insight into much of the thinking that lay behind their designs: ‘the lighting has to be very carefully done because they wanted, appropriately, some natural light, but the natural light has to be very carefully controlled for the sake of preservation of the paintings. So we have clere storeys at the top where we have very, very, very up-to-date, complex, sophisticated technical elements that control the light, as the light changes over time, a cloud goes by and things like that.’
Referred to as a notable example of Postmodernist architecture in Britain, the completed Sainsbury Wing received a mixed reaction. Venturi talks about how they approached the project: ‘So, we were doing two main things when we were designing that building, from the stand point of the front and from the stand point of the outside. One was that it was to be a continuation of the existing building, although not a copy of it. And then the other was that it was to be a building that helped, that acknowledged its position on the piazza, on the square and helped the… improved… enhanced the quality of the square.’
To find out more about Venturi, Scott Brown and Rego’s fascinating lives and work, their compelling recordings can be watched as a number of short clips ranging in length between one and several minutes, with a fully searchable transcript. All Web of Stories videos are easy to share with friends and colleagues, and may be embedded into personal blogs and websites.
London's National Gallery first opened on 10 May 1824
Sainsbury wing was designed by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown
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