By Akerele Christabel 5:49 pm PST


Gallery room design is all about creating spaces that showcase artworks thoughtfully and appealingly. It’s more than just a place to hang paintings; it’s about setting up a room to enhance the art and make it enjoyable for visitors. The design involves choosing the proper lighting, arranging artwork in a pleasing manner, and selecting furniture that complements the space without stealing the show.

Everything from the paint on the walls to artwork placement in a gallery room matters. The idea is to make the art the primary focus while creating a comfortable atmosphere for people to explore. This often means using neutral colors on the walls and keeping furniture simple so it doesn’t distract from the art. Lighting also plays a significant role – it needs to be just right to highlight the art without causing any glare. All these elements work together to set the stage for the art pieces, making them stand out and inviting people to look closer.

Room 29: Then and Now

Room 29 in the National Gallery, London, has an exciting history reflecting art and societal changes. It was first set up in These artworks depicted scenes from daily life and landscapes, giving people a glimpse of British culture at the time.

Room 29, The theme for the summer of 2023 is the art of Venetian paintings. (Photo: The National Gallery)

Interestingly, Room 29 didn’t exist when the Gallery first opened its doors on Trafalgar Square in 1838. It was built as part of a new extension in the 1920s to house the Gallery’s growing collection.

The project was funded by Joseph Duveen in 1928. He first sent an offer to the Prime Minister at the time, offering to pay for the cost of building a ‘Venetian Room.’ This referred to the Venetian paintings that the room is now popular for. He then followed it up with a letter sent to Sir Charles Holmes, the Gallery’s Director. The architect in charge of the job, Sir Richard Allison, created a model of what he wanted the room to look like before he began work on it. On completion, the room was opened by Prince George, Duke of Kent, in January 1930.

During World War II, the precious artworks of the National Gallery faced the threat of bombing. This called for a strategic decision to ensure their safety. The paintings were carefully relocated to an abandoned slate mine in Manod, Wales.

This relocation ensured the preservation of centuries of artistic heritage from the devastating effects of war. One of the rooms that bore the scars of the bombing was Room 29, which was severely damaged by the conflict.

The Vision of St Jerome. armigianino. Date:1527. Medium: oil on panel. Dimensions: height: 343 cm (11.2 ft); width: 149 cm (58.6 in). (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

However, in the years that followed, Room 29 underwent a process of repair and renewal, emerging from its wartime scars to be refurbished and reopened in 1950. The formerly ravaged walls were adorned with a renewed elegance of pale gold damask that gracefully framed the German and Flemish paintings.

As time passed, the room changed to feature different kinds of art. In the mid-20th century, it started showcasing modern and abstract pieces. These artworks challenged traditional ideas about art and represented new ways of thinking. This shift was a big deal because it showed how art was evolving- exploring different styles.

Recently, Room 29 got a makeover. It was redesigned to make it easier for people to see and appreciate the art. With the help of new, groundbreaking technology, controlling the natural light that flows into the room is now easier and more effective. The walls have been repainted from the gray Sir Richards envisioned to a warm olive green, a refreshing complement to the paintings on the wall. The floorboards took on a light oaken covering to make the room feel brighter.

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary. Tintoretto. Date between 1570 and 1575. Technique oil on canvas. Dimensions: height: 200 cm; width: 132 cm. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Christ in the House of Martha and Mary. Tintoretto. Date between 1570 and 1575. Technique oil on canvas. Dimensions: height: 200 cm; width: 132 cm. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

In the period of this grand refurbishment, 440 meters of fabric, 600 meters of braiding, and over 800 linear meters of gilded moldings have gone into the work.

This refurbishment project had help from the generous Wolfson Foundation, whose support has allowed room 29 to come back to life.

Venetian Paintings Housed In The Venetian Room

 Here are some of the most popular time relics hanging on the walls of room 29;

“The Vision of Saint Jerome” by Parmigianino

 This is a portrayal of Saint Jerome in a contemplative state. The elegant lines and intricate details showcase Parmigianino’s Mannerist style.

“Christ in the House of Martha and Mary” by Jacopo Tintoretto

 Depicting a biblical scene, this painting captures the contrast between Martha’s busy preparations and Mary’s attentive listening to Christ’s teachings.

“The Death of Actaeon” by Titian

One of the most famous Venetian paintings, this artwork illustrates the tragic myth of Actaeon. The dramatic portrayal of the hunt and the transformation of Actaeon into a stag demonstrates Titian’s mastery in narrative painting. Titian also produced other masterpieces like Venus and Adonis, Mars, Venus and Cupid, A Man In a Red Cap, and others.

“Doge Leonardo Loredan” by Giovanni Bellini

 This portrait of the Doge of Venice captures the dignified presence of the Venetian leader. It’s one of the most famous works in the gallery.

The Death of Actaeon.Titian. Date: between 1559 and 1575. Medium: oil on canvas. Dimensions height: 178.8 cm (70.3 in), width: 197.8 cm (77.8 in). (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)


Ritratto del Doge Leonardo Loredan. Giovanni Bellini. Date: after 1501. Medium: oil on poplar wood. Dimensions: height: 61.5 cm (24.2 in); width: 45 cm (17.7 in). (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)