For a great day out in the capital no matter what the British weather may throw at you take a visit to the National Gallery in London, one of the city’s most popular tourist activities. Here visitors are able to see over 2300 works of art with one of the greatest collections of European painting in the world on display, and what’s even better is it’s free to visit.
The permanent collection shows works mostly ranging from between the years of 1250 to 1900 including famous artists such as Vermeer, Titian, Monet and da Vinci. The gallery regularly offers exhibitions and events for every taste and palate. Some of these are free with lunchtime and 10 minute talks providing adult visitors with insightful information on artists and paintings. Children aren’t missed out of the free event schedule either at the National Gallery in London, and every Sunday is family day with Magic Carpet Storytelling, art workshops and family walk and talk sessions aimed to cater for all age ranges. There are a number of bookable events, and occasionally some visiting collections which are a gathering of pieces from other galleries and private collections designed to give a comprehensive look at an artist’s life and works. You have to pay for these visiting exhibitions and it’s definitely worth booking well in advance if there is a particular date you want to go as many are fully booked months ahead.
If you want to do more than to just look at the works housed in the National Gallery in London, then get involved and start sketching. Pick up a ‘Keys to Creativity’ toolkit from the Getty Information Desk. The pack contains all you need to produce a drawing or piece of text based upon works in the collection.
On Fridays you can attend concerts in the Gallery between 6-7pm performed by students from the Royal College of Music. The gallery offers late night opening on a Friday which could be combined with a visit to the National Dining Rooms restaurant. This is an experience in itself – designed by the architect David Collins and restaurateur Oliver Peyton. Every few months the head chef explores different countries through a culinary journey. Many people visit to see some of their favourite paintings followed by a sumptuous dinner.
Finally, there is some excellent shopping at the gallery. Three different shops all catering for visitors needs with high quality items means you’ll be spoilt for choice. The specialist bookshop is packed full of reading material on numerous artists and paintings which are great if you’re thirsting to know more about some of the works you’ve just seen. They also stock some superb coffee table books. The ‘print on demand’ section allows you to get a print of your favourite painting using an inkjet printer. They stock a small selection of ‘highlight’ prints as well. And the National Gallery in London also caters well for children, with pocket money toys and gifts, as well as some beautiful arts and crafts sets for them to buy.
How to get there:
The best way to get to the gallery is by using the underground. There are 5 different stations all within a short walk from the gallery and serving the major underground lines.
Always book for visiting exhibitions online and well in advance as you will be surprised at how quickly they sell out.
The gallery is housed right in the centre of London in Trafalgar Square, surrounded by numerous shops and only a short walk from the Theatre district and areas of interest. Why not combine a visit to the gallery with a West End show?