London National Portrait Gallery

London National Portrait Gallery building view

History of London National Portrait Gallery

One of the oldest London museums where the largest collection of portraits is amassed is the National Portrait Gallery. Here one can find the portraits of outstanding British people who influenced somehow the course of the country’s history.
It was established in 1856 and became the first place where people could get to know better the works of famous artists. The idea of creating this museum belongs to Philip Stanhope. His desire to create a gallery was so strong that during ten years he was trying to receive the government approval. His comrades who shared his views were T. Babington and T. Carlyle. The sculpture busts of those outstanding English men are set above the main entrance to the building. At the beginning, the collection was made to change the address not once but repeatedly, until one rich magnate subscribed great sum of money for constructing a special building in the centre of London. The building was built in the style of Florentine renaissance. Afterwards the building was consequently expanding and in 2000 a new wing with a huge escalator was built.

London National Portrait Gallery exhibition

Nowadays the gallery is one of the biggest and attended museums in the world. All the pictures are set in the chronological order since the aftermath of the Tudors to the present days. Till 1969 there was a strange rule in the museum. The gallery didn’t exhibit the works of living people (only ten years later after their death the portrait could be displayed). However, nowadays the rules changed greatly. For example, there are 74 portraits of Prince Charles. Also the portrait of Kate Middleton has been displayed recently.

London National Portrait Gallery exhibition Kate Middleton

London National Portrait Gallery exhibitions

The National Portrait Gallery exhibitions display portraits of the most outstanding persons of the history of Great Britain. The museum estimates more than 11000 portraits, created in various themes: approximately 4 thousand pictures, sculptures and miniatures and also 7 thousand of graphical pictures. During the year only 300 works are exhibited because these works are saved from the light impression. Besides, the museum can boast by two hundred of original photos.

London National Portrait Gallery exhibition face of fashion

The gallery keeps real treasures. One of the most valuable and famous exemplar is William Shakespeare’s portrait, though nowadays there are a lot of disputes concerning the question whether real play-writer is depicted on the picture. The portraits of outstanding English artists such as W. Hoggarth, Sir J. Reynolds, Th. Cromwell and the sculptures of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in medieval outfits are displayed in the museum. Some pictures are deemed to be of historical value and show rather more than the creativity of this or that artist. Very often the gallery houses contemporary exhibitions.

London National Portrait Gallery exhibition William Shakespeare

The collection of the gallery displays various genres. The tourists have a great opportunity to see the cigarette packs featuring the portraits of Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill or Bernard Shaw. The pictures are depicted with humor.

This gallery has admirers from all over the globe and in 2008 this museum has got the biggest present during the years of its existence. The American millionaire Randolph Lerner presented 5 million pounds to the gallery.

London National Portrait Gallery map

London National Portrait Gallery floor map

London National Portrait Gallery floor map

London National Portrait Gallery opening hours

Very good news for the tourists is that there is no need to pay for the National Portrait Gallery tickets because the entrance is free and wi-fi is free.

London National Portrait Gallery opening hours are from 10.00 am to 18:00 pm. On Thursdays and Fridays the gallery is ready to welcome the visitors until 21:00. So on these days of the week portrait gallery can be the best place for interesting and cognitive evening spending.

How to get to London National Portrait Gallery


St Martin’s Place,
London, WC2H 0HE

The nearest tube stations are:

  • Charing Cross
  • Leicester Square
  • Embankment
The nearest train station is:
  • Charing Cross station

Also you may use the following bus routes:

24, 29 and 176 from Trafalgar Square stop C or Charing Cross Road stop K.

London National Portrait Gallery shop and restaurant

After breathtaking excursion you may relax ant taste traditional British cuisine in the National Portrait Gallery Restaurant. It doesn’t matter breakfast or supper you have, the atmosphere of this restaurant will surely gift you ultimate experience. It is situated on the third floor of the museum and overviews central London.

London National Portrait Gallery restaurant

Also if you prefer to have a bite Portrait Café is at your disposal. By the way, it was reconstructed recently and now the seating capacity is doubled.

On the ground floor of the gallery there are book and gift shops. A full range of books, publications, various souvenirs can be found there.

Contact London National Portrait Gallery

Phone: +44 20 7306 0055