London’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG) has made a most unexpected acquisition: a ticket kiosk on a small traffic island just outside its new entrance. But it is the hidden space below street level that is important: a former underground Victorian public lavatory, which closed in the 1970s. Although the elegant hexagonal kiosk at the Trafalgar Square end of Charing Cross Road, at the junction with Irving Street, may look Edwardian, it dates from the 1980s and was used for selling theatre tickets. After closing a few years ago, it was put on the property market in 2021. The Art Newspaper can report that several months ago the NPG succeeded in buying the “Iconic Island” from a property company, for a sum of roughly £3m, with funds provided by Len Blavatnik, the Ukrainian-born American British businessman.
New exhibition space! National Portrait Gallery buys former Victorian public lavatory
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