Sidney R.J. Smith was the architect selected to design the gallery.
His initial design was rejected because it seemed 'pretentious' with its decorative winged eagles and cupolas.
So Smith produced an alternative proposal which was accepted, and this formed the design of the core building that we see today.
With its grand porticoed entranceway and central dome it resembled a temple or palace, providing the sense of authority and tradition appropriate for
a national gallery.
The statue of Britannia with a lion and a unicorn on top of the pediment emphasised its function as a gallery of British art.
Foundations for the new gallery were laid in 1893, and construction was completed four years later.
It was opened by Edward Prince of Wales on 21 July 1897, and opened to the public three weeks later on 16 August.