National Portrait Gallery

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.

The Tudors Reimagined: George Perfect Harding

  • 14 March 2015 — 17 January 2016 *on now

The growing interest in the history of Britain led to the popularity of antiquarianism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and to a demand for portraits of historical figures in a variety of media. This display explores that fashion through the work of the miniature painter and copyist George Perfect Harding. The eldest son of another miniature painter, Silvester Harding (1745—1809), George was probably taught by his father who ran a successful business as an engraver with his brother, Edward Harding (1755-1840). For some forty years, from 1804, George travelled the United Kingdom copying portraits and recording details of their history. His notebooks from this period survive and provide a detailed record of the content of over 250 collections, from castles and country houses to inns of court, university colleges, livery companies and hospitals. This display pairs some of the original portraits, now in the National Portrait Gallery, with Harding’s copies.

The watercolours in this display appear to have been produced either singly or in very limited quantities for the most dedicated of collectors. The preservation of their colour indicates that they were kept in folios and books. They also reveal the appearance of many Tudor portraits before environmental factors or chemical changes had caused certain pigments to fade. This can be seen particularly clearly in Harding’s copy of the portrait of Nicholas Throckmorton.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Curators' Choice: Photographs from the Terence Pepper Gift

  • 12 May 2015 — 24 January 2016 *on now

The works in these two component displays are drawn from around 2500 photographs from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries generously donated by Terence Pepper, Senior Special Adviser on Photographs. Curators’ Choice is a tribute to his skills of detection and identification, and his eye for an overlooked or mis-identified sitter or photographer, as well as his interest in charting cultural life in all its variety.

Terence’s long and illustrious career at the National Portrait Gallery as Curator of Photographs and Head of the Photographs Collection (1978-2013) has left its mark in the remarkable body of photographic works acquired for the Collection in this period. Terence’s expertise, energy and enthusiasm transformed the Gallery’s photographic holdings, and today the Photographs Collection comprises over 250,000 portraits by leading photographers including many that he has helped bring back to prominence.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Giacometti: Pure Presence

  • 15 October 2015 — 10 January 2016 *on now

Alberto Giacometti (1901–1966) is widely regarded as one of the most important and distinctive artists of the 20th century. A restless innovator, he explored a range of styles and subjects
however portraiture remained a continuous preoccupation.

This major exhibition is the first to focus on Giacometti’s portraits and covers the entire span of his career. The show includes important paintings, sculpture and drawings within sections devoted to each of his principal models, and illuminates Giacometti’s obsessive evocation of a human presence.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Tickets with donation* Full price £17 / Concessions £15.50
Tickets without donation Full price £15 / Concessions £13.50


Public and Private: Winston Churchill in Photographs

  • 27 October 2015 — 5 June 2016 *on now

To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill, this display gives a broad picture of Churchill’s many roles through works from the Photographs Collection. The steadfast wartime leader is shown in iconic portraits and morale-boosting ephemera, while press prints, tear sheets and snapshots show him as a correspondent, soldier, painter, writer, friend and family man.

Alongside studio portraits which became emblematic of Churchill’s bulldog-like persistence, the display features photographs of a Churchill as a young man and informal portraits at home with his family. An album of personal snapshots of Clementine and Winston Churchill’s voyage with Walter Guinness, 1st Baron Moyne in 1934, during Churchill’s ‘wilderness years’, will be displayed for the first time.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Vogue 100: A Century of Style

  • 11 February — 22 May 2016

Vogue 100: A Century of Style showcases the remarkable range of photography that has been commissioned by British Vogue since it was founded in 1916, with over 280 prints from the Condé Nast archive and international collections being shown together for the first time to tell the story of one of the most influential fashion magazines in the world.

This exhibition has been organised by the National Portrait Gallery, London in collaboration with British Vogue as part of the magazine’s centenary celebrations.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Tickets with donation Full price £19 / Concessions £17.50
Tickets without donation Full price £17 / Concessions £15.50

Concessions include: senior citizens (aged 60 and over), students, children 12–18 years, registered unemployed, disabled people (with free entry for one carer). Proof of age or status required.

Free for Members and Patrons


Russia and the Arts: The Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky

  • 17 March — 26 June 2016

Russia and the Arts is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a selection of masterpieces on loan from the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

The exhibition will focus on the great writers, artists, composers and patrons, including Tolstoy, Chekhov and Dostoevsky, whose achievements helped develop an extraordinary and rich cultural scene in Russia between 1867 and 1914. It will also show how Russian art of the period was developing a new self-confidence, with the penetrating Realism of the 1870s and 1880s later complemented by the brighter hues of Russian Impressionism and the bold, faceted forms of Symbolist painting.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

National Portrait Gallery
St Martin's Place
Greater London




Recorded Information

020 7312 2463

020 7306 0055

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.