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The National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery, hidden away around the side of the National Gallery on St Martin’s Place, was established to “display portraits of the Nation’s great men and women” and to “act as a national focus for the study and understanding of portraits and portraiture.”

The Gallery’s Primary Collection, begun in 1856, now features over 10,000 portrait paintings, drawings and sculptures.

The main body of the collection can be found on the 1st and 2nd Floors. The late Victorian and early 20th Century collections are on the 1st Floor, and the 2nd Floor is split into two periods, 1505-1714 and 1714-1837.

The Gallery’s unique Photographs Collection, dating from 1840 to the present day, is comprised of over 220,000 images.

In addition to the extensive permanent collections, there are always a revolving series of temporary exhibitions here that explore and/or celebrate the work or life of a significant British citizen.

Admission, hours and location

Free to enter, the National Portrait Gallery only charges admission for certain temporary exhibitions. Open everyday from 10am-6pm (Thurs/Fri-9pm), the Gallery is only closed from 24-26 December.

Nearest Tubes: Charing Cross or Leicester Square – Map

The National Portrait Gallery’s official website


Photo credit: Robert Wallace