The National Gallery
Paint the town
Finding fresh and innovative ways to inspire a city.
The National Gallery houses one of the finest collections of paintings in the world. Yet in comparison to some other London galleries, it lacked awareness and appeal amongst some of its key audiences, particularly Londoners.
When the Gallery asked us to raise awareness of the permanent collection, we knew the real challenge was not about communication, but relevance. We needed to find an innovative way to engage people who didn’t think going to the Gallery was for them.
Our response was to turn the brief on its head. Rather than trying to bring an audience to a gallery, we decided to take the Gallery to its audience.
What we did
Highlighting the reproduction technology of Gallery sponsor Hewlett-Packard, we created 44 life-size, high-resolution prints of some of the most famous paintings in the collection and hung them in replica frames around the streets of Covent Garden, Piccadilly and Soho.
Each location was hand-selected to complement the painting and was accompanied by a plaque which highlighted details about the piece written in everyday language.
We called the exhibition The Grand Tour, a playful reference to the 17th century cultural tour, but reimagined with a route that could be curated and personalised online.
of people felt the Gallery would be an inspirational place to visit
of people who had never visited the Gallery felt motivated to do so
pieces of worldwide media coverage and a TV documentary
By upholding the integrity of the paintings (sympathetically framing and hanging them) and by encourage people to engage with the collection, the core purpose of the National Gallery brand was powerfully brought to life.
And by stopping Londoners in their tracks and compelling them to connect and engage with the paintings, 92% of audiences felt the Gallery would be an inspirational place to visit.
The project was a huge success, with over 28,000 tour maps picked up from the Gallery and another 24,000 downloaded from the website. Despite no paid media, The Grand Tour achieved over 300 pieces of worldwide media coverage and became London’s most talked about summer show. It was subsequently extended into a national tour.
The best National Gallery exhibition I’ve ever seen.
2 Wood Pencil
ADC Annual Awards
M&M Global Awards
New York Festivals
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Design Week Awards