Free festival of art for all at ‘Summer on the Square’

National Gallery

Free festival of art for all at ‘Summer on the Square’

As part of Household’s partnership with The National Gallery to develop the customer experience journey masterplan across gallery and digital channels, we were asked to develop one of the activations – Summer on the Square.

The brief:

The brief was to bring the art collection from The National Gallery to life in unconventional ways in the heart of Trafalgar Square, London, immersing art lovers, tourists and passers-by in new experiences of art for free and appealing to a wider and more diverse demographic. The identity would need to build awareness and excitement, and the operations has to deliver a seamless guest experience, flow, and efficient operating model. Generating revenue through partnerships was a key consideration for this first, and future events.

The insight:

Digital technology has opened up new ways to consume art, taking people from observation to participation. Immersive art is soaring in popularity as visitors seek connection and escapism post-pandemic. Working with the principles of ‘Awe-inspiring’, ‘Creative Connections’ and ‘Bring Together’, we set out to create an imaginative connection with art that is more inclusive for everyone and becomes an annual cultural summer ritual for Londoners and visitors alike.

Our approach:

With the purpose of democratising art from observation to participation, we created and designed the identity, experiences and inclusive inspiring programme of performances and interactive, educational activities – playing with scale, spectacle and co-creativity as key themes. The experiences are designed to stimulate the senses and immerse everyone, young and old, with art reframed and reimagined for the outdoors, inviting them to become part of the action and explore The National Gallery through an ‘art activation’ journey.

Summer on the Square evokes a celebration of colour culture and creativity — with the National Gallery centre stage. A colourful oversized gateway leads visitors through a tunnel and into the Paintings Re-imagined installations featuring masterpieces from Manet, Monet, Van Gogh and Hogarth including a walk-through of light and colour inspired by the Impressionists, reflective surfaces showing the masters from different perspectives, including the viewers reflection within, and an immersive sound installation that reveals musical pieces created by children for the National Gallery Music Masters program directly inspired by the paintings displayed.

The Studio houses is the destination for a programme of creative workshops where live events are held including self-portraiture, sculpture building and painting live models recreating scenes from classic paintings, connecting back to the gallery and inviting guests to discover the stories behind the art.

The new identity for the  Summer on the Square festival is inspired by its specific location on Trafalgar Square. The fresh modern graphic language features a tilted square orientation and bold typography. We introduced vibrant, diverse, and lively colour combinations to bring the festival to life across the architecture of gallery’s façade.

Siu-Lan Choi, Creative Director at Household said: “We are proud to be continuing our work with The National Gallery to explore new and relevant ways in which guests — existing and future — connect with and experience the gallery. The Summer on the Square festival will be a visual feast and interactive delight for those passing by, as well as those with more time to dwell; designed to celebrate creativity, spark conversation and engage with the gallery itself in ways that haven’t been experienced before.”

“Household has been an outstanding partner, working closely with us to understand the gallery’s challenges and responding with innovative experiences that will welcome all audiences to get involved and (re)discover The National Gallery.

The festival will be the heart and soul of cultural London for the summer.”

— Chris Michaels, Director of Digital, Comms & Tech at The National Gallery

The result:

Nearly 80,000 people engaged over the 3 week period with diversity of audience being at an all-time high. 10,000 visitors took part in the Studio Programme. The majority had little or no knowledge of art. Standout presence on Trafalgar Square with the design successfully attracting attention, guiding guests intuitively through and delighting with unexpected interactions.

The project has also won two awards in 2023: Winner for Outdoor Experience at the Campaign Experience Awards and Silver for Best Brand Experience at the Transform Europe Awards.