National Portrait Gallery rebrands with a monogram unearthed from the archive

Peter Horridge – typographer behind the crests for Liverpool FC and Liberty’s – designs the new monogram, reworking an 1893 sketch by the gallery’s first director.

26 January 2023

After a three-year closure and a £35.5 million redevelopment project, the National Portrait Gallery prepares to re-open with news of its 2023-24 exhibition programme. A new brand facelift signals this upcoming launch to the public. Edit Brand Studio and brand strategists Boardroom Consulting have developed an identity to “better reflect its roles as a gallery that is of people, for people, telling the story of Britain’s past, present and future through portraits”, a release reveals.

The history of the institution is present at multiple touch points, with a new logotype, typeface, brand symbol and palette referencing archival materials, as well as the portrait collection itself. Perhaps most notably, the Gallery has introduced a monogram based on the initials ‘NPG’. While these initials could already be spotted by the more keen-eyed visitor, in metalworks and as part of original mosaics, the design project sees it repurposed as a front-facing asset. After a sketch by former Gallery director Sir George Scharf, showing NPG “entwined and encircled” in a workbook, was discovered in the Gallery’s archives, illustrator and typographer Peter Horridge transformed the 1893 drawing into a new monogram.


Edit Brand Studio / Boardroom Consulting: National Portrait Gallery (Copyright © National Portrait Gallery, 2023)

Complementing this detail is a bespoke logotype, also hand-drawn by Peter Horridge, and a Monotype contribution, NPG Serif, which is similarly centred on historic fonts found throughout the gallery. Colours have been modernised, inspired by paint materials in the archive; the portrait collection will also be featured with more prominence in assets. The project also comprises a new website, developed with an initial phase of work by digital agency Numiko and continued by the gallery’s in-house digital team.

On the thinking behind the revamp, audience research showed that “while there was loyalty and great warmth for the National Portrait Gallery with high levels of visitor satisfaction [prior to closure in March 2020], the Gallery could do more to bring its Collection to life for more people”, says the press release. A solution was devised after speaking to members, staff, visitors and newcomers alike. The revamp needed to be both “timeless and current, a flexible brand that could sit seamlessly alongside the magnificent grade I listed building and historic works, as well as the contemporary collection and dynamic events and exhibition programme", the release explains.

“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,” says Edit Brand Studio co-founder Karen Hughes. “We were creating a brand for a shop, a new cafe, 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 therefore created a brand that can flex and mean lots of different things to lots of different people, while still feeling part of a strong, distinctive, unified whole.”

GalleryEdit Brand Studio / Boardroom Consulting: National Portrait Gallery (Copyright © National Portrait Gallery, 2023)

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Edit Brand Studio / Boardroom Consulting: National Portrait Gallery (Copyright © National Portrait Gallery, 2023)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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