National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery
St Martin's Place
Greater London




Recorded Information

020 7312 2463

020 7306 0055


020 7306 0056

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
National Portrait Gallery, London
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The National Portrait Gallery, founded in 1856, is home to the largest collection of portraits in the world, with works dating from the Middle Ages to the present day.

With over 1,000 portraits on display visitors can come face to face with the people who have shaped British history and culture, from Elizabeth I and Charles Dickens to The Beatles and David Beckham. Artists featured range from Holbein to Hockney, and the Collection includes work across all media, from painting and sculpture to photography and video.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

Daily 10.00-18.00
Gallery closure commences at 17.50
Thursday & Friday until 21.00
Gallery closure commences at 20.50

Closed: 24-26 December

Admission charges

Admission to the Gallery is FREE
An admission fee is charged for some exhibitions


  • Museums Association

Additional info

Evening Openings

The Gallery is open on Thursday and Friday evenings until 21.00. In addition to being able to view the Collection and exhibitions, special lectures (in English only) are held on Thursday evenings and free music events on Friday evenings.

The Collection is displayed chronologically, beginning with the earliest Tudor portraits on the top floor, the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, through to the Victorians and early 20th century on the first floor and finishing with the most contemporary part of the collection on the ground floor.

Collection details

Archives, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Personalities, Social History

Key artists and exhibits

  • In addition to the Main Collection, a programme of special temporary exhibitions and displays runs throughout the year.
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

Michael Peto Photographs: Mandela to McCartney

  • 17 September 2013 — 31 May 2014 *on now

Hungarian-born photojournalist Michael Peto’s photographic career is celebrated in this new display organised in collaboration with the University of Dundee. The ten photographs by Michael Peto (1908-1970) taken in London during the 1950s and 1960s to go on display from 17 September 2013 will include the photograph shown to the right of Elizabeth Taylor with Richard Burton during the recording of the acclaimed BBC radio production of Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood in October 1963.
Other celebrated subjects in the display will include Samuel Beckett photographed in his Paris apartment in 1961, Nelson Mandela photographed during a brief visit to London in June 1962, Jennie Lee photographed near the Houses of Parliament in 1965, and Paul McCartney with The Beatles during the making of the Richard Lester directed film Help! (1965). One of Peto’s last sittings featured in the display shows a young Ian McKellen at the time of his success in the Prospect theatre production of Richard II in 1969.
Born in 1908 in Bata, Hungary, Peto settled in London at the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, working firstly as a writer. He took up photography in 1947 mainly to illustrate his own work. His photographs were first published in The Observer in March 1949. He became a regular contributor alongside other celebrated photojournalists including Jane Bown, Peter Keen and David Sim. During the 1950s and 1960s, Peto documented social issues and the key cultural and political figures of the era. His celebrated publications include The Dancer’s World (1963) with Nigel Gosling and About Britain (1967) with Kenneth Harris. Following Peto’s death in 1970, his archive of 130,000 original negatives and vintage prints was donated by his family to the University of Dundee.

Suitable for


A woman wearing a swimsuit and a towel poses with a man holding her foot

Bailey's Stardust

  • 6 February — 1 June 2014 *on now

Bailey’s Stardust is a landmark exhibition of portraits by one of the world’s most distinguished and distinctive photographers, David Bailey.

Over 250 images, personally selected and printed by Bailey, will be presented thematically across a series of contrasting rooms and will illustrate the extraordinary range of subjects that he has captured throughout his career: actors, writers, musicians, filmmakers, designers, models, artists and people encountered on his travels; many of them famous, some anonymous, all of them unforgettable.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Full price £14.50
Senior citizens (aged 60 and over) £13.00
Concessions £12.00
Children 12–18 years, registered unemployed, students, disabled people (with free entry for one carer)
National Art Pass holders 50% discount


Selbstbildnis als Soldat (Self-portrait as a Soldier) by Ludwig Kirchner, 1915

The Great War in Portraits

  • 27 February — 15 June 2014 *on now

The Great War in Portraits (27 Feb-15 Jun 2014), will kick start a four-year public programme of displays, events and workshops for young people at the Gallery which is promising “an approach never previously adopted”

Showing how the First World War was depicted and reported with a degree of visual detail unprecedented in the history of conflict, the exhibition will feature the now familiar and iconic portraits of Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and Winston Churchill together with images reflecting the war experience of those from all social classes who served.

Important loans of major art works by Lovis Corinth and Max Beckmann and Kirchner’s painting Selbstbildnis als Soldat (Self-portrait as a Soldier) will bring searing German Expressionistic masterpieces into a mix, which will also include Harold Gillies disturbing photographs of soldiers with facial injuries from the Royal College of Surgeons and Henry Tonks’ portraits of similarly disfigured servicemen.

A First World War portrait of an infantry officer
Wilfred Owen by John Gunston, 1916© National Portrait Gallery, London
An installation of 40 photographs displayed in a grid formation will present a range of protagonists from medal winners and heroes to the dead and the executed, interspersed with artists, poets, memoirists and images representing the roles played by women, the home front and, the Commonwealth.

The exhibition will also feature a divergent pairing of British and German films devoted to the Battle of the Somme never previously seen together; and a rare photograph, Courtellemont by Jules Gervais, described by curators as “a portrait of absence” depicting a deserted, battle-scarred landscape.

NPG Curator Paul Moorehouse says “a complex range of human experience” will be covered in the show which will reveal the “evolving different roles, responsibilities and destinies” and “illuminate the way war was represented through portraits of individuals – each caught up in events beyond reason or control”.

An accompanying programme includes a display called keep the Home Fires Burning, featuring stars of Music Halls of the Great War period and First World War-inspired performances by the Portrait Choir.

An NPG-led project called National Memory – Local Stories, will look at local collections throughout the UK and investigate how they can be used to engage with young people and highlight significant moment during the war.

A fully-illustrated book by Paul Moorhouse with an essay by Sebastian Faulks will accompany the exhibition priced £18.95.

Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision

  • 10 July — 26 October 2014

Guest curated by biographer Frances Spalding, Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision will explore Woolf as a novelist, intellectual, campaigner and public figure. The exhibition looks at Woolf’s early life, literary interests and remarkable achievements, her fascination with London, awareness of modernity, and her developing feminist and political views. These are brought into focus through in-depth research and an array of archival material, including letters to and from her friends and acquaintances, extracts from her personal diaries, and original books that were first printed through the Hogarth Press.

Highlights of the exhibition include distinctive portraits of Woolf by her Bloomsbury Group contemporaries, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and Roger Fry, as well as a collection of photographs by Beresford, Man Ray, and Beck and McGregor who photographed Woolf for Vogue. The exhibition will also feature portraits of those she was closest to, including a selection of intimate images recording her time spent with friends, family and literary peers.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Adult £7 (with Gift Aid)
Seniors £6.50/Concessions £6



Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Hand crafted bunting

Three Day Workshop: Crafted Histories

  • 23 — 25 April 2014 *on now

Visit The Great War in Portraits and ‘No End of a Lesson’: The Boer War, 1899 – 1902 to create a reflective response using craftivism (activism through craft) techniques.

Work with Sarah Corbett from Craftivist Collective, to explore activism through craft; and contemporary artist Grace Adam. Using The Great War in Portraits and No End a Lesson: The Boer War, 1899-1902 as a starting point, make your own personal response to showcase in the Gallery on the final day of the workshop.

You will also have the unique opportunity to visit the Heinz Library and Archive to see original documents that the Gallery has kept since the time of the First World War.

For ages 14–21.

Suitable for

  • 14-15
  • 16-17
  • 18+


Booking required. Please email or call 020 7312 2483.


The Portrait Choir 2013

The Portrait Choir: Singing Day

  • 27 April 2014 10am-3:45pm

Visitors are invited to come and discover some of the choral music that was being sung and heard during the First World War. Participants will sing music ranging from Elgar to Irving Berlin. The day includes a talk from a curator as well as a performance in the Gallery.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


Tickets: £22 (£18 concessions and Gallery Supporters) Book online.


Paul McCartney (‘Mike’s Brother’) by Sam Walsh, 1964

Live Music The Great War in Portraits: Peter Sheppard Skævard & Roderick Chadwick

  • 2 May 2014 From 6:30pm

The year 1914 inspired lyricism from some composers, mock-heroic posturing and irony from others. In three years, Lilli Boulanger would be dead, and America drawn into the War.


Leoš Janáček-Sonata (1914)
Lilli Boulanger-Cortège (1914)
Erik Satie-Choses Choses vues à droite et à gauche sans lunettes (1914)
Charles Ives-2nd Sonata (1912-1914)

For more information on Peter Sheppard Skaevard’s series of concerts responding to the complex narrative of 1914-1918 please see his website here:

Suitable for

  • Any age


Richard Osborne

Guest DJ: Richard Osborne

  • 15 May 2014 6-8:45pm

‘I am the author of the book “Vinyl: A History of Analogue Record”.’

DJ Richard Osborne plays every genre of music within his sets, including pop, rock, jazz, soul, disco and rock and roll, creating sets that correspond to specific temporary exhibitions taking place at the Gallery. He also lectures in popular music, music retail and music copyright, as well as being an author.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Catherine Bailey by David Bailey

Lecture: Flesh - David Bailey's Women

  • 15 May 2014 7-8pm

Writer and art historian Simon Watney and guests discuss David Bailey’s portraits of women, wives and lovers in the context of photography and painting.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children
  • 18+


£6 (£5 concessions and Gallery Supporters) Book online, or visit the Gallery in person.


Market stalls in Hoxton Street, Shoreditch,

Lunchtime Lecture: London Recorded by Camera: Street Photography in the East End

  • 15 May 2014 From 3:15pm

Stefan Dickers, Library and Archives Manager at the Bishopsgate Institute, presents a history of street photography in the East End of London, from the 1850s to the present day.

The East End of London has played a central role in the development of photography and the social conditions of the area and its people have fascinated generations of photographers in their work. This lunchtime lecture will explore the development of street photography from the 1850s, when fledgling photographers attempted to catch the flourishing docks and shipyards of the Isle of Dogs, to the work of their contemporary counterparts, using the extensive collections on London History held at Bishopsgate Institute.

Stefan Dickers is Library and Archives Manager at the Bishopsgate Institute and looks after its numerous collections on London, labour, co-operation, free thought and humanism. He is also secretary of the Archives and Resources Committee of the Society for the Study of Labour History, Co-Director of the Raphael Samuel History Centre and sits on the committees of the Socialist History Society and the oral history consortium Britain at Work, 1945-1995.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


Places for our free events are allocated on a first come, first served basis and are subject to availability.


Soldier with facial wounds

In Conversation: Repairing the Wounds: Art and Surgery, Then and Now

  • 15 May 2014 7-8pm

Author Louisa Young, curator Emma Chambers and maxillofacial surgeon Iain Hutchison examine the work of Sir Harold Gillies and artist Henry Tonks and discuss how the techniques they developed to restore faces severely injured in the First World War have been used in modern day treatment of physical wounds and their psychological impact.

During the War, surgeon turned artist Tonks produced before and after images of Gillies’ patients, portraying not just the physical, but the psychological effects of plastic surgery. The skills of artist and surgeon combined to restore confidence in men who had been robbed of their identity by their wounds.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


Places for our free events are allocated on a first come, first served basis and are subject to availability. We recommend arriving in good time.


George Williamson - Associate Artist, English National Ballet. Photograph copyright English National Ballet

Late Shift Extra: In Parenthesis

  • 16 May 2014 6-10pm

‘you scramble forward and pretend not to see,
but ruby drops from young beech-sprigs –
are bright your hands and face’

The National Portrait Gallery in partnership with the English National Ballet, present a dance performance at the Gallery inspired by David Jones’ seminal poem of the First World War, In Parenthesis.

Choreographed by George Williamson, the performance includes ballet and contemporary dance performed across the Gallery.

A poet and painter, In Parenthesis was David Jones’ first literary publication – a rich, beautiful and complex book-length poem that took him 20 years to write. It was published by Faber and Faber in 1937 with an introduction by T.S. Eliot who called it as a ‘work of genius’. It describes Jones’ experience of life on the front during the First World War.

Jones enlisted in the Royal Welch Fuesiliers and served on the Western Front from December 1915 to March 1918. Like Jones, John Ball, the protagonist of In Parenthesis, served on the Western Front during the war and both were wounded in the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

Jones draws on his Welsh literary heritage in In Parenthesis, uses images from Shakespeare’s history plays and T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, and fuses them with soldiers’ slang from the war. The vision he creates is dense, fractured and intimate. It explores physical destruction, spiritual outrage and how to find goodness in a hateful life.

George Williamson - Associate Artist, English National Ballet

Whilst at English National Ballet School George won the Choreographic Competition for three consecutive years and the CTRL-ALT-SHIFT Award. Ballets created included, Round the Corner (2009) presented at the Peacock Theatre and the City of London Festival. In 2010 he created Ana-Chro-Po for English National Ballet School’s Summer performance. For Polish National Ballet he created Animus in 2011. For New English Ballet Theatre he created Threefold in 2012. Firebird was his first commission for English National Ballet which received its world premiere at the London Coliseum in March 2012. My First Cinderella, premiered at the Peacock Theatre on 27 March 2013 presented by English National Ballet and English National Ballet School. In 2013 George received a nomination for the Benois de la Danse Award for his creation of Firebird and created Tempus for The Queen’s Coronation Festival in the Gardens of Buckingham Palace. For Dutch National Ballet’s Junior Company he created Dawn Dances and most recently with the New York Choreographic Institute creating Four On The Floor. Future projects include My First Ballet: Coppélia on a national tour of the UK.

David Richard Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty

Gallery Talk: Bold, Dashing and Handsome: Admiral Sir David Beatty

  • 18 May 2014 From 3pm

Find out more about David Beatty, naval hero of the First World War, with historian Lesley Rivett.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


General Officers of World War I

In Conversation: The Final Months and Beyond

  • 22 May 2014 From 7pm

The Armistice marked a seminal moment in modern European and World history. Historians Nick Lloyd and David Reynolds examine the bloody last months of WW1 and its true impact on the 20th century. Chaired by Alex von Tunzelmann.

In his ground breaking study of the War, Nick Lloyd examines its last days, beginning at the heralded turning-point on the Marne in July 1918 and the next four months which included some of the bloodiest battles of the War.

Suitable for

  • 18+


Self-portrait as a soldier

Gallery Tour: The Great War in Portraits

  • 29 May 2014 From 7:30pm

Join John Wilson for a tour of The Great War in Portraits. Led in BSL with interpretation into English.


Paul McCartney (‘Mike’s Brother’) by Sam Walsh, 1964

Live Music The Great War in Portraits: Will Dutta

  • 30 May 2014 From 6:30pm

Ravel wrote Le Tombeau De Couperin (1914–17) as a memorial to comrades felled in the War. Here, the Gallery’s Music Coordinator presents the work alongside music by Couperin and Chopin.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

Storytelling for Families

Third Saturday of every month, join our storytellers for monthly drop-in storytelling sessions in the Gallery, inspired by the Collection. Suitable for children aged 3+ and their carers.

How to obtain

No ticket required. Meet in the Ondaatje Wing Main Hall. These sessions are free and will last about 30 minutes.

Family Art Events

On the 3rd Saturday of every month, explore portraits from the National Portrait Gallery's collection, then take part in an art activity. Workshops are at 11.30 and 14.30 and last approximately 90 minutes.

How to obtain

Pick up a free ticket to attend the sessions, available one hour before it starts from the Information Desk in the Ondaatje Wing Main Hall. Spaces are allocated first come, first served and children must be accompanied by an adult.

National Portrait Gallery Webquests

Webquests are online activities for children, using the collections of nine national museums and galleries.

The Sunday Sessions

The Sunday Sessions are part of the Young People's Programme for 14-21 year olds. All sessions are free and explore aspects of portraiture in exciting and innovative ways, drawing inspiration from the collection or temporary exhibitions.

How to obtain

For more information email or call 020 7312 2483.

Youth Forum

Youth Forum is part of The National Portrait Gallery's Young People's Programme for 14-21 year olds. All sessions are free and explore aspects of portraiture in exciting and innovative ways, drawing inspiration from the collection and temporary exhibitions. Youth Forum meets on a Thursday evening once a month.

How to obtain

For more information or to join Youth Forum, contact Rachel Moss, Young People's Programme Manager on