I have been thinking more about the issue of how important the entry to a museum is.
One of the things we had to do at the Museum Management Institute was to pick a museum we had never been to in San Francisco – easy for me as I had never been to any of them – and then describe everything about the experience of finding them/arriving/buying a ticket before the actual visit and how good or bad it was – in those days, mostly bad. It’s tricky once one is working in a museum to remember how off-putting they can be if you’ve never visited them. Hence, the focus on what the Sainsbury Wing looks like from outside, the metal gates, the scale of the urban/civic space between it and the Wilkins Building, what it looks like at night.
When we were first discussing the redesign of the Royal Academy, one of its most loyal donors said she always still found the courtyard a little bit off-putting as if she didn’t belong there. If she felt like that, what did everyone else feel ?
So, yes, the National Gallery is right to be paying attention to its entrance and what visitors feel.