After an unprecedented 111 days with its doors closed, the National Gallery will start welcoming visitors again on Wednesday 8th July – the first major national art museum to reopen in the UK to reopen after the coronavirus shutdown.
The decision to reopen was based on government guidelines. In line with best practice learnt from colleagues in European and American museums all visits will be booked online and in advance.
Entrance will be via the Sainsbury Wing Entrance and exit through the Getty Entrance; there will be 2m social distancing measures in place throughout the Gallery. As part of the National Gallery’s new safety measures, they have introduced three one-way art routes to guide you through different areas of the collection.
You will be able to download an online map ahead of your visit or view it on your smart phone, and visitors can access extensive information on each painting through the Gallery website. When walking through the art routes you can also get extra information by downloading the Smartify app for free and use your phone to scan the paintings.
The universally acclaimed Titian: Love, Desire, Death exhibition, that had to close after just 3 days, will also reopen and has been extended until 17th January 2021. Nicolaes Maes: Dutch Master of the Golden Age has also been extended, until 20th September 2020.
“Providing a safe and enjoyable experience is our priority; in order to achieve this an enhanced cleaning regime will be in operation. We have installed higher efficiency filters in the air-conditioning system throughout the Gallery and are increasing the flow of fresh air. Perspex protection panels will be in place at Ticket and Information desks, along with the shop and café counters too, and there will be plenty of hand sanitizer at regular intervals throughout the building. For added reassurance that the National Gallery is a safe place to work and visit, we have provided personal protective equipment for our staff (including face masks, gloves and eye protection) and we are also recommending that all our visitors wear a face covering during their visit.”
There are many exciting new things to see in the Gallery as it re-opens:
• Room 32 – the Gallery’s largest and one of the most visited rooms displaying 17th-century Italian paintings by artists including Caravaggio, Artemisia and Orazio Gentileschi, Guido Reni and Guercino – will reopen after a 21-month refurbishment project, as the Julia and Hans Rausing Room. Thanks to their support, the Gallery has re-instated the decorative design of its original architect, Edward M Barry, replaced the wooden floors and wall fabrics, and installed an air conditioning system.
• A number of newly-acquired paintings – Liotard’s The Lavergne Family Breakfast (1754), Gainsborough’s Portrait of Margaret Gainsborough holding a Theorbo (about 1777) and our very first Sorolla (The Drunkard, Zaraúz, 1910).
• The newly restored Equestrian Portrait of Charles I by Van Dyck (about 1637/8) will be back on show in Room 21 after more than two years. This monumental work (measuring 367 × 292.1 cm) has been off display since September 2017 undergoing conservation.
• Some new and ambitious hangs in the Dutch and British collections, including the two works by Turner (Dido building Carthage (1815) and Sun rising through Vapour (before 1807)) that are always hung together with A Seaport (1644) and The Mill (1648) by Claude in accordance with Turner’s will, relocated from Room 15 to the dramatic setting of the Barry Rooms.
Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, London says
“The prospect of reopening is hugely exciting. I believe there is also something symbolic in the Gallery being the first major national art museum to reopen. We want to be a part of the nation’s recovery story and by opening the doors and letting the public back in to see our inspiring pictures, we want to make an important contribution to the process. When you visit, you’ll notice we’ve made a few changes. These help us put your safety, as well as the safety of our staff, first – but we are the same Gallery you know and love, just with added social distancing and one-way art routes. The National Gallery will soon be open again and we are ready to welcome you back.”
Admission and tickets
There are three ways to book a visit at www.nationalgallery.org.uk
• Members go free to Titian and our other exhibitions
• Gallery entry + Titian (visit our 5-star Titian: Love, Desire, Death exhibition and see our collection)
• Gallery entry (a free ticket to see our collection and Nicolaes Maes: Dutch Master of the Golden Age)
*Visitors can choose to explore route A, as well as route B or route C. Both route B and C pass through the Impressionist galleries and end at the toilets, café, shop and exit.
• Route A – See some of the earliest works in the collection including Botticelli, van Eyck, Leonardo, Memling, Michelangelo, Raphael, Piero and Uccello.
• Route B – Travel from Venice to the English countryside and see artists including Bronzino, Canaletto, Gainsborough, Hogarth, Holbein, Monet, Seurat, Turner and Van Gogh.
• Route C – Witness dramatic candlelit moments and contemplate serene interior scenes and see artist including Caravaggio, Rubens, Velázquez, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Monet, Seurat, Turner and Van Gogh.
A few of our rooms will not be open, in particular the smaller cabinet rooms.
Open 7-days a week daily 11am-4pm, Friday 11am-9pm and a reduced maximum capacity for visitors.The Getty Shop will be open, as will the National Café which will have a takeaway offer.