After being closed for refurbishment for ages, the National Portrait Gallery has now reopened. The City Adventurers were able to visit and see its updated facilities as part of a day out in London.
The National Portrait Gallery
Dedicated to showcasing portraits of historically important and influential individuals throughout British history, the National Portrait Gallery was founded in 1856. It houses over 200,000 portraits, including paintings, sculptures, photographs, and other forms of portraiture. The building itself, located near Trafalgar Square, is an architectural masterpiece with a stunning Victorian-era facade.
The refurbishment project prioritized the preservation and conservation of the gallery’s extensive collection of portraits. Advanced climate control systems and state-of-the-art security measures have been implemented to ensure the long-term safeguarding of the artworks.
The Gallery is open daily from 10.30am. There are now two entrances to the building – St Martin’s Place and Charing Cross Road. Both entrances have step-free access and bag searches on entry. The cloakroom has been relocated to the ground floor and the toilets are now unisex.
You can still take the very long escalator to the (nearly) top floor to begin your journey down the collection in chronological order.
The actual top floor is the restaurant, which can be accessed by lift. The Portrait Restaurant by Richard Corrigan has been re-designed by International and luxury design studio Brady Williams and overlooks Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament.
Start touring the collection with the Tudors. A very crowded gallery as always. Then work your way along and down to the other eras.
The long corridor filled with statesmen that opened onto galleries containing notable Victorians has been replaced by a corridor of other notable Victorians and the more modern portraits have been given greater exposure. Instead of the long gallery at the end of the building, they have been moved more towards the body of the building.
The end galleries are now an exhibition space. At the time The City Adventurers visited it was set aside for Yevonde – Life and Colour – “An exploration of the life and career of Yevonde, the pioneering London photographer who spearheaded the use of colour photography in the 1930s.”
The National Portrait Gallery has definitely undergone a significant transformation. While it aims to make the layout of the galleries flow easier, it has also changed the feel of the place. For the better? Hopefully. But at the moment it all feels very new and a little strange.
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