National Portrait Gallery
I visited the National Portrait Gallery in October because I had some unexpected free time. I went to the exhibition of Queen Elizabeth II photographs called ‘The Queen Art & Image’. Afterwards I took a wander round the gallery, when sated with pictures I visited the café and had a bite to eat.
We are so lucky in this country that access to these galleries is free. You are asked to make a donation, they suggest a fiver, an amount that I do not begrudge.
What to expect
The Gallery itself is not enormous. It consists of a series of rooms or galleries on 3 floors. Each room is a separate theme such as actors or sportsmen.
The ground floor is contemporary displays and temporary exhibitions and displays such as the one I visited. The first floor is portraits from the Reign of Queen Victoria to the 1980s, that’s about 150 years. The second floor is pre Queen Victoria. I did not have the energy or will power the view anything apart from the ground floor.
The café is in the basement. It does not have a wide selection of food, just a few different types of sandwiches, quiche and paninis. On the other hand it is not expensive and the staff are very helpful.
I would recommend going to the gallery, there are plenty of seats in each room to sit and peruse. The small size makes it more intimate than the bigger galleries and museums. Also it does not seem to be as crowded or busy than the more familiar places. There is one proviso, if you are in a wheelchair then you do need to be patient for two reasons. Some of the lifts are quite slow and the corridors to some of the lifts are very narrow. I travelled to Trafalgar Square from Euston by bus, take the 91, allow about 45 minutes for the journey.
The Queen Art & Image
To mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, this landmark exhibition was held at the National Portrait Gallery. It brings together some of the most remarkable and resonant images of Elizabeth II made during her reign.
As always at the National Galleries this was yet another very excellent exhibition. As well as showing images, photographs and portraits that I had already seen there were some photographs that were new to me.
The exhibition pictures made her appear to be a figure that is detached from everyday life. I am sure there are plenty of pictures of the queen that are less formal. Nothing of her with her horses or the corgis, this would have made it a more rounded exhibition. Here there were too many posed images of her as the queen.
The few photographs where she was relaxed captured the essence that gives the picture a meaning as well as it being a good photograph. There was an image made up of lots of small photographs of princess Diana that put together resembled the queen.
The exhibition was not overcrowded, there was a good description of each picture and you could view the exhibition in under an hour. Everything was mounted on the wall which made viewing from a wheelchair so much easier. There is nothing worse than trying to view exhibits in display cabinets, OK if you are on your feet but this can be quiet a challenge if you are in a wheel chair.
National Portrait Gallery exhibitions website of the National Portrait Gallery