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The National Gallery
The National Gallery holds the national collection of Western European art from around 1250 to the 19th century. It is located on Trafalgar Square in central London. The gallery opened in 1824, and aims to look after the collection of over 2,300 paintings, whilst making it as accessible as possible.
Its collection has been described as modest by the standards of other major European galleries such as the Louvre and Hermitage. The gallery was not inherited from a particularly vast and wealthy collector but instead originated as an initiative by the state along with a number of donations. As a result, entrance (as with most London galleries and museums) is completely free of charge.
The comprehensive collection features famous artists such as Botticelli, Cezanne, Gainsborough, Giotto, Rembrandt, Renoir, Turner, Leonardo da Vinci, and Van Gogh. The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist by Leonardo da Vinci was acquired in 1962, and Titian's Death of Actaeon in 1972. Recent acquisitions include Raphael's Madonna of the Pinks in 2004 and Titian's Diana and Actaeon in 2008.
In addition to the main collection, the gallery organises exhibitions, talks and lectures on a variety of topics, and there are daily guided tours, described as '60-minute tasters' of the collection. Every Friday the gallery is open late until 9pm, with visitors able to browse the collection and meet in the bar or the National Café. There is also live music by musicians from the Royal College of Music, and the programme varies each week.
The gallery also offers attractions and events especially for children and families. 'Magic Carpet Storytelling' takes place every Sunday, when children are invited to fly away on the magic carpet and see which painting it lands on. The gallery also runs family art workshops. 'Family Walk and Talk' is an interactive tour of the collection, suitable for families of all ages. 'The Children's Gallery' is a collection of artwork by children, inspired by what they have seen at the gallery. During school holidays, there are art workshops organised for 5-11 year-olds, as well as two-day practical workshops for teenagers aged 12-17. Workshops are free and suitable for all abilities, although booking is essential.
For a break and refreshments, The National Dining Rooms offer a fine dining experience, and The National Café offers breakfast, lunches and dinner, and is inspired by the works of the gallery.
The National Gallery is open daily and admission is usually free, except for certain exhibitions and events.
Opening Times: Daily: 10:00 - 18:00, Fridays: 10:00 - 21:00.
Prices: The permanent collection is free; special exhibitions cost in the region of £10 per person.
Nearest Tube: Charing Cross, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus are all within a 5 minute walk.
Trafalgar Square, Trafalgar-Square, WC2N 5DNView Larger Map
Best For Whom
- Families With Children
Best For What
- Cultural Experience