The favourite gallery of Princess Katherine Duchess of Cambridge, this gem is often mistaken for the National Gallery or overlooked. It is, however, the only London gallery in which works of art have been chosen not for the fame of the artist, but rather for the importance of the sitter. As such, the NPG is a place of stories, from the lives of Henry VIII to Sir Paul McCartney. An Arts Unlocked tour also yields less well-known stories about the paintings themselves and their interesting histories. Many of our Experts have worked, and still work at the NPG, so there is nobody better to show you around!
National Portrait Gallery
Tour for Adults: A History of Britain through portraits
One of the most frequently asked questions at the National Portrait Gallery is “where is the Mona Lisa?” The answer of course, is “Over in France, in the Louvre”. In fact, paintings in the Portrait Gallery have not been chosen not for their Mona Lisa-like fame or for the because of the artists who painted them, but for the importance of the people represented in them. It is a hall of fame full of people and relationships that have been important to British, and in many cases world, history; from of Henry VIII and his six wives, through Amelia Earhart, through Paul McCartney and the Beatles, to Nelson Mandela and the Olympians from 2012's games. Learn more about British history through the portraits displayed here, and see whether you prefer those created by famous artists, or those drawn by the sitters’ friends and relatives.
(Price: £250 per group, Duration: 2.5hrs)
Tour for Families: A Right Royal History Hunt
For children who love stories, the characters in the portraits are brought to life by our family Experts, this hunt for the mystery king or queen. Each painting’s sitter leads the family to the next through a series of ‘who am I?’ questions. There is a character to inspire every child, a walk through the National Portrait Gallery is one of the best ways for the whole family to learn about important characters from history and their sometimes forgotten histories. The History Hunt is a game, leading to a right royal prize at the end.
(Price £250 per group, Duration: 2.5hrs Age range)