National Portrait Gallery London

Museums of London | National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is a short 5-10min walk from Charing Cross Station on the Central Line (or as I call it, the red one). It is located beside/behind the National Gallery, near Trafalgar Square.

The gallery was officially established in 1856. Reading from their website, the National Portrait Gallery was founded with the criteria that the gallery was to be about history instead of art, and about the status of the sitter (the person featured in the portrait).

It really makes you think about all the sitters featured in the National Portrait Gallery. I did try to imagine how they were living, breathing individuals who were also going about their daily lives in olden day England, just like how I am right now. And I wonder if they knew their portraits would be up on display for the many people in the future generations.

There was a major exhibition in there, for all the nominees for the BP Portrait Award 2015, which featured many amazing painted portraits. I initially expected to go into the National Portrait Gallery and see photographs, but I had no idea it was an entire gallery of painted portraits of famous people and British royalty.

The gallery was organized in time periods, and I saw so many paintings of Queen Victoria I think her face is etched in my mind.

Hazel went into the gallery with one mission: To see the portrait of Jane Austen.

No photography (sometimes)

Certain portraits have a ‘No Photography’ signs and there is security located in some of the corridors to keep an eye out for the pictures. So I held my camera close to me and only took general pictures of the rooms and galleries, instead of taking pictures of the portraits.

I think aside from other museums of London where they are a variety of exhibits, the National Portrait Gallery is pretty niche in the sense that they only feature portraits. I guess it means they attract a more sophisticated crowd.

While I was there looking through all the portraits, there were many people (mainly elderly people), who were quietly reading the descriptions and analysing the paintings. Out of peer pressure I also started paying more attention to the descriptions next to the paintings, which told you who were the people in the paintings.

shoutout to postcard lovers!

Oh yes I also thoroughly enjoyed the gift shop which was located at the exit of the gallery. It was so big and there were so much merchandise. Gift shops are my weakness. There was also an entire wall of postcards and OMG I’ve never felt so overwhelmed with choice hahaha. (To anyone who didn’t know, I’ve always gravitated towards postcards in souvenir shops and I have officially decided recently to start collecting them.)

The National Portrait Gallery is a great visit, visit away! There are occasional special exhibitions in the gallery that may require us to pay for admission too. When we were there, there was an Audrey Hepburn exhibition, which must have been really nice, but we didn’t want to pay. Well I did buy some postcards of her portraits though, makes up for it I guess?

National Portrait Gallery

St Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE
Free admission! + Free WiFi!
Opening hours: 1000-1800; Open til 2100 on Thursdays and Fridays
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With love,