One of the best things about London is popping into one of the city’s many free museums – including the world’s largest portrait gallery. But now, the National Portrait Gallery is set to close for three years for a refurbishment. 

Portraits hang on the wall of the National Portait Gallery.
The National Portrait Gallery, London, UK © Alex Segre / Shutterstock

However, all is not lost for anyone who wants to admire the incredible artworks the museum houses. The closure will take place from 29 June 2020 until spring 2023, and the redevelopment will involve a total refurbishment of the building, new public spaces, a new visitor entrance, and more. 

While the museum undergoes work, the art will travel around the UK. The programme of activities will see 300 portraits – some of which are rarely loaned to other museums – travel the country each year, starting in 2020. 

The entrace to the national portrait gallery.
The entrance to the gallery © Will Jones / Lonely Planet

Some of the exhibitions are already planned, like a partnership with York Art Gallery in 2021, an exhibition of Tudor portraits curated in partnership with the Holburne Museum in Bath in 2022, and other exhibitions with the National Museums Liverpool, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. From there, the exhibitions will tour to other UK venues. The gallery’s programme “Coming Home”, which sees portraits of iconic people travel to the places most associated with them, will be ongoing. 

“Face of Change” – an exhibition in partnership with the National Trust – will run throughout 2020 at three different National Trust properties – Mottisfont, Basildon Park and Hughenden. “Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits” will open at the National Maritime Museum in April 2020. 

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