National Portrait Gallery To Close For Three Years

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 54 months ago

Looks like this article is a bit old. Be aware that information may have changed since it was published.

Last Updated 05 November 2019

National Portrait Gallery To Close For Three Years
Photo: National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery will close to the public for three years, to allow for refurbishment work to take place.

The art gallery will close its doors on 29 June 2020, and remain closed until spring 2023. Works will start to come off display from May 2020, so if there's a particular piece you want to see, make it sooner rather than later.

Photo: Shutterstock

While the gallery is closed, selected pieces from its collections will be loaned to other collections and displayed in other venues including (deep breath...) The National Trust, The National Gallery, Royal Museums Greenwich, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Coventry City of Culture (Herbert Art Gallery & Museum), York Art Gallery, the Holburne Museum in Bath, Museums Liverpool, the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Derby Museum and Art Gallery, The Yorkshire Museum and Aston Hall in Birmingham.

The Gallery is 'considering options' for annual portrait competitions, including the BP Portrait Award and the Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize.

What's being renovated at the National Portrait Gallery?

An artist's impression of the new entrance

The Gallery is definitely overdue a complete refurb and overhaul, and plans have been kicking around for a while now. One of the main changes visitors will see is a brand new entrance, on the North Façade, close to Leicester Square — controversial because a Victorian donor insisted the entrance be as far away from the seedy streets of Soho as possible. But the current, narrow entrance is no longer suitable for the number of visitors the gallery receives.

Inside, 'significant refurbishment' will take place, and will "enhance the Gallery, restoring historic features while preserving the unique character of the listed building."

The East Wing of the building, which dates back to 1896 and currently houses offices, will also be reopened to the public. New gallery spaces will be installed, and the current Portrait Cafe will be extended into the wing.

How much will the refurbishment cost?

The East Wing will be reopened

£35.5m is the expected cost of the works, with the money coming from a range of sources, including the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Trustees of the Garfield Weston Foundation, and a public fundraising campaign. Donations are still being accepted, and depending how deep your pockets are, you can adopt a mosaic, step, or roundel on the outside of the building.

Will the National Portrait Gallery close completely?

Photo: Shutterstock

Yes, the gallery will be completely closed to visitors, including gift shops, cafes and restaurants — although the online shop will continue to trade. The Heinz Archive and Library, located in a separate building on the opposite side of Orange Street, will remain open to researchers by appointment.

The National Gallery next door shouldn't be affected by the works.

Find out more about the closure, renovation plans and where else you'll be able to see the collection on the National Portrait Gallery website.