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Designed by Tom Ellis Jones London, United Kingdom

National Gallery

London, United Kingdom

With millions of visitors viewing its outstanding collection of early Renaissance paintings every year, the Sainsbury Wing of London’s National Gallery is a demanding place to maintain. With a major exhibition coming up, the the Sainsbury Wing galleries have just received a major refurbishment – including the replacement of all of the flooring.


“We face different challenges with a project like this”, says Tom Ellis Jones, Head of Projects & Building fabric maintenance at the National Gallery. “We want as much of the collection to be on display for as long as possible, so simply closing the galleries is not an option. In this case we curated a ‘best-of’ exposition and placed it in one of the rooms we’re not renovating. Still, we needed to finish the work as soon as possible, with minimal disruption for the public.”

Any project in a museum means working within very tight perimeters.

Sealed rooms

This meant that much of the work took place out of hours, but with art on display in the adjoining rooms. Ellis Jones: “The interior climate was obviously a major concern. Things like dust and vibrations are detrimental to the paintings. We sealed the rooms where work was done and placed special filters over the air vents, and we minimised and closely monitored drilling and other work that caused vibrations.”

With lots of visitors, over a 1000 square meters of flooring to replace and a tight schedule, we need a quality product and a dependable supplier.

Grasping the project

It’s vital that contractors understand the complexities of such an operation, which took two years of preparation, says Ellis Jones. “The flooring company really grasped our projects and our building. I specified Hakwood because they used it very successfully in another gallery: it’s in keeping with what’s already in place and the quality of the timber is consistent. The combination of dimensional stability of the product and the installer’s cradle system meant that there wasn’t a lot of drilling and that installation was swift. It gave us exactly what we wanted.”

Products used
Flooring European Oak FSC
Grades Premier 1-bis
Finish Site finish
Thickness 20 mm (3/4")
Plank widths 100 mm (3 15/16")
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