The National Portrait Gallery has launched its new brand today and revealed its 2023-24 programme of major exhibitions ahead of its official reopening this summer. Created with Manchester-based Edit Brand Studio and Boardroom Consulting, the refreshed identity aims to better reflect its role as a gallery that is "of people" and "for people"; one that tells the story of Britain's past, present and future through portraits.
This morning's big announcement coincides with The National Portrait Gallery's official reopening this June – the historic space has undergone an extensive refurbishment as part of the Inspiring People project. The new identity features a new monogram, logotype, typeface and colour palette, all inspired by historical reference points within the building and the Gallery's extensive collection of portraits.
Why the overhaul? Before its closure in March 2020, audience research showed that while there was loyalty and great warmth for the National Portrait Gallery with high levels of visitor satisfaction, it could do more to bring its collection to life for more people. Thus, the new designs were developed following a comprehensive review of the existing brand to build a stronger and more focused identity.
As part of the process, the Gallery engaged its stakeholders, members, staff and visitors, and those who hadn't yet stepped through its doors to establish what would be required of a new and improved National Portrait Gallery. "A clear solution lay in finding a balance of timeless and current, a flexible brand that could sit seamlessly alongside the magnificent grade I listed building and historical works, as well as the contemporary collection and dynamic events and exhibition programme," it explains.
With this in mind, one of the central focus points to the brand refresh was inspired by the initials 'NPG', which can be seen throughout the Gallery's building, within the metalwork of railings, embossed onto furniture and as part of original mosaics. Such motifs also appear in archival materials, including an original sketch by the Gallery's first director, Sir George Scharf, who entwined and encircled 'NPG' in a workbook dated 1893. This particular sketch has since been transformed into a new symbol for the Gallery by the illustrator and typographer Peter Horridge, best known for his logos and crests created for some of Britain's most iconic institutions, including the Royal Household and King Charles, Admiralty Arch, Liverpool Football Club and crests for Liberty's department store.
The brand also features a bespoke logotype hand-drawn by Horridge and a contemporary new typeface, NPG Serif, created by type foundry Monotype rooted in historic font references found in and around the space. These elements are coupled with a fresh, modern palette, again inspired by paint and materials in the building and archive and its collection of portraits.
Speaking of their involvment, Adrian Newell of Edit said: "When we started working with the National Portrait Gallery, we quickly understood the requirement to create a brand for so much more than a Gallery. We were creating a brand for a shop, a new café, a fine dining restaurant, a learning centre, family activities and even a night out. Putting the vast, magnificent and diverse collection front and centre, we’ve created a brand that can flex and means many different things to many people, while still feeling part of a strong, distinctive, unified whole."
The new identity has been rolled out to the Gallery's website and digital channels with more planned for 2023. "The new brand expresses our ambition to be a place for everyone, full of life and filled with life stories," adds the Gallery, "We are excited to share more over the coming months."