National Gallery, London

The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, Westminster, is one of the UK’s most historic and prestigious art galleries. Founded in 1824, it houses more than 2,300 paintings, with the earliest dating from the 13th century. It is one of the world’s most visited art museums.

It was launched after the British government purchased 38 paintings from the descendants of fine arts patron John Julius Angerstein (a London businessman and Lloyds’ underwriter) in 1824.

The gallery has the status of an exempt charity, under the control of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The collection of paintings belongs to the British government, which keeps them on behalf of the public.


Improved access

Being a public building that attracts more than 6.2 million visitors a year, the gallery requires easy access for everyone, including disabled visitors.

Automatic Access was commissioned to improve the access at the Sainsbury Wing entrance, which is located near Whitcomb Street on Trafalgar Square. The gallery has street-level access from Trafalgar Square, where we were asked to install an automatic operator to the existing doors.

The building had entrance walls with a stone finish, so fixing face-fix push-pad boxes to operate the automatic doors was not an option.

Automatic access installed stainless steel canopies to the automatic door operators and made special back boxes that were recessed into the stonework. Disabled “Push to Open” push pads were installed flush with the stonework as a special finish.


Popular entrance

The improvements to the access at the Sainsbury Wing have been welcomed, since it is one of the National Gallery’s most popular entrances for a number of reasons: there are spacious lifts that lead to the paintings on level two; it is the most convenient entrance for taxis to drop off and pick up passengers; and it is the closest entrance to the parking bays.

As well as containing many works of art, the Sainsbury Wing also houses the National Gallery’s conference rooms and the National Dining Rooms, where diners can enjoy fresh salads, soups, sandwiches and seasonal specials while looking out at the stunning views over Trafalgar Square.