The National Gallery in London has announced a brand new exhibition that will allow visitors to explore some of the highlights of the collection through what they hear as much as what they see.

A number of leading sound artists and musicians including Nico Muhly and Chris Watson have been commissioned to respond to six paintings of their choice from the National Gallery collection.

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Each  brand new ‘soundscape’ has been specially created for the exhibition and will only be heard within the exhibition space for the duration of the show.

Every musician and artist involved with the project will have a soundproofed room in the Sainsbury Wing exhibition space into which their chosen painting and new sound or musical piece will be installed. The aim of combining sound with the visual is to offer visitors a new and completely different way to think about paintings.

By using a cross-disciplinary approach, this exhibition is certainly ambitious in what it is trying to achieve and it will be interesting to see whether or not it pays off. But it is another step in demonstrating how pieces in the National Gallery can still inspire a number of artists today.

Doctor Nicholas Penny, Director of the National Gallery said: “When sounds have been composed in response to a work of art they can encourage – even compel – concentration.  Furthermore, it can combine with an image to captivate and transport us.  Silence, afterwards, is not the same!”

The sound artists and musicians selected to take part in this experimental exhibition include: Nico Muhly, Susan Philipsz, Gabriel Yared, Jamie XX, Chris Watson, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller.

Curator of the exhibition, Dr Minna Moore Ede said: “We are tremendously fortunate to have musicians and sound artists of this calibre creating completely new work for the National Gallery…. And it is incredibly exciting to see how they will metamorphose these great paintings into musical and sound form.”

Soundscapes is part of the ‘National Gallery Inspires’ programme of exhibitions ,which takes a fresh look at the paintings in the gallery’s collection.

This latest exhibition will open to the public on the 8th July, with tickets available to buy from today.


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