The reopening of Sotheby’s New Bond Street entrance this September marks the culmination of a decade-long renovation project to transform the array of 18th-century buildings which we have called home for over 100 years into a state-of the-art gallery space fit for our 21st-century business.
Our London galleries are now the finest of any auction house in Europe, offering our clients the largest, most high-tech and versatile exhibition space. The renovations in our London Galleries are part of a global programme of investment in our business most recently in New York and Paris as part of our on-going drive to enhance the client experience.
With an emphasis on British design and craftsmanship, the renovation of our interior spaces continues to honour our Georgian heritage by drawing inspiration from the architecture and style of the 18th-century, while employing natural materials and a neutral palette as the ideal backdrop against which to display the myriad artworks we handle each year.
Inside the Galleries
During the course of our renovations over ten years, we have expanded our overall exhibition space in London by 40%. The addition of 7 new galleries brings our total number of exhibition spaces to 21, from small intimate rooms designed to spotlight individual artworks, to larger temple-like spaces flooded with natural light. With our newly-strengthened floors and walls in the St George Street Gallery, we can display virtually any work of art, from classic cars to monumental sculpture.
New lighting and sound features create an immersive experience from the moment clients step through our doors. An infinite number of different lighting colour combinations can now be carried throughout our building from the floodlit façade of New Bond Street, to illuminated staircases and ceilings and music can now be played in all public spaces.
The flow of the newly laid out galleries means that visitors will never encounter a dead-end while they explore our exhibitions. On arrival they will be guided by new signage throughout the public areas and greeted by a floor-to-ceiling audio-visual wall in the Central Gallery, visible from the moment they enter via New Bond Street.
Reimagining Our Past
Georgian design elements can be discovered throughout our expanded reception areas, from marble floor designs inspired by 18th-century classical fashions and the Georgian-style fan window above our New Bond Street entrance, to the new balustrades on the staircases which emulate those that adorn the window ledges of the Private Treaty Room. The 275 individual handblown glass light droplets suspended above the bespoke reception desk, modelled on the recently installed desks in our NY headquarters, each represent one year in Sotheby’s 275-year-history. The design of the wall parallel to the staircase at our New Bond Street entrance mirrors the edges of the pages of a book in tribute to our founding as a bookseller in 1744. British craftsmanship has been placed at the heart of the redesign, with the majority of furniture, fixtures and fittings designed or handmade in the UK.
The staircase banisters hail from the same Yorkshire workshop responsible for commissions from the Houses of Parliament and Royal Palaces. Each glass light fitting has been handblown in west London. The mirrors in the restaurant, the recycled straw coffee tables, chairs and benches in our reception area and much more all boast British provenance.
The unveiling of the new galleries and entrance also marks the reopening of Sotheby’s Restaurant in a fresh brasserie style with a teal leather banquette, leather covered dining chairs, tables laid with crisp white linen, Georgian-inspired door frames and soft gold-foiled mirrors.
Hanging above the diners will be “the hands of Caravaggio”, light fittings based on hands depicted in the artist’s great masterpiece Supper at Emmaus, and his portrayals of St Francis of Assisi and Bacchus, the Greco-Roman god of wine and festivity.