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The role of museums in city regeneration

National Portrait Gallery's 'Inspiring People' project - planned new entrance on north side (Jamie Fobert Architects)

Remaining relevant to existing audiences and connecting to new ones, is a constant for our leading galleries and cultural centres. How collections are displayed for enjoyment and act as attractions for the tourist economy, is a keen responsibility for those in charge of our national art collections. Educational initiatives and creating viable event space are also serious considerations.

With this in mind, The National Portrait Gallery, London, is embarking on a £35 million construction programme supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, that will see the creation of new public spaces, a new state of the art Learning Centre, a more welcoming visitor entrance and works to refurbish the building and re-display the collection.

The office areas in the East Wing of the original 1896 building will be converted into top-lit galleries and the ground floor and basement levels will be turned into a flexible gallery and social space. The scheme has been designed by Jamie Fobert Architects with a multi-disciplinary team including heritage specialist architect, Purcell and M&E engineer Price & Myers.

Works from the gallery's collection will be loaned while works takes place. The gallery is closed from next June to 2023, but works will travel throughout the UK by way of a series of partnerships with schools and communities. 'Faces and Places' will be a schools outreach programme in seven London Boroughs accompanied by displays in nearby schools, libraries and museums.

''Citizen UK' will work with local heritage and community partners in London and Wolverhampton to explore stories of migration and movement within the UK and 'People Powered' will cover a series of exhibitions created with partners in London and Teeside, uncovering the experiences of communities involved in creating international and world class exports, such as steel in Middlesborough or football in Wembley.

Future Cities Forum will be running a series of cultural regeneration forums and round tables throughout 2020, starting in January, exploring the issues of city regeneration and the important role of museums, art and culture.

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