National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery (96)

Located just behind the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery houses the largest collection of portraits in the world. It opened its current site in 1896, although its collections had begun to be compiled 40 years earlier. 

Its collection includes famous British men and women who have made history from the Middle Ages until the present. Around 1,300 portraits are exhibited on the three floors, from Henry VIII to the Beatles and her Majesty the Queen.

The subjects of these portraits, among which are included writers, politicians, musicians, artists and many members of the monarchy, have been expressed with different techniques, such as oil, watercolour, and even photography.

In 2000 the facilities were enlarged with the construction of a new wing that includes the important Tudor gallery. This space houses, for example, one of the most appreciated pieces of the National Portrait Gallery: a portrait of William Shakespeare, attributed to John Taylor.

The show is organised chronologically, and you will be able to see portraits of figures as different as Oliver Cromwell, Queen Victoria, Lord Byron, Charles Dickens, Stephen Hawking, the royal family or David Bowie.

Do not miss this other way of discovering the history of the United Kingdom, through all the portraits of its leading figures that take us from the time of Henry VIII to the present.

By the way, entrance is free. However, as well as the main collection, there is a programme of very interesting temporary exhibitions throughout the year for which you have to pay an entrance fee.

Additionally, visitors to the Woodward Portrait Explorer, through touch screens, can find information about approximately 50,000 personalities and artists, linked to more than 25,000 portraits in the collection.

And if you want to discover fascinating details about the collection make sure you get an audio guide that the museum provides you with, a tour of 75 portraits that cannot be missed.  

The centre also has facilities such as a conference hall, restaurant, café and an attractive library specialising in books about art, fashion photography portraits and British history, and is in the basement of the gallery. Do not forget that the shop possesses a selection of postcards, posters and gift objects based on the gallery’s collection. 

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