The National Gallery sits in perhaps the most regal location in all of London – in the centre of the city and the middle of Trafalgar Square. Overlooking the square’s famous lions and fountains, The National Gallery houses a collection as grand as its locale – it’s held the nation’s Western European collection since 1838, and has always been a revered public institution.
An extension to the original building in 1991, the Sainsbury Wing was built to house the entire Renaissance collection, and the gallery is now big enough to hold more than 2,300 works from the 13th to the 20th century, including paintings by Turner, Ingres and da Vinci.
Apparently cavernous enough to fit 2,000 double-decker London buses under its roof, the gallery can be difficult to navigate. Look out instead for the free guided tours and audio guides that will help you find what you want to see.
Regular and special events in the shape of live music concerts and talks and the award-winning ArtStart Guide entice a wide and varied audience to explore the gallery’s many treasures.
4 April – 19 August 2012
This small show revolved around Titian’s earliest commission, which is also arguably his earliest masterpiece. ‘The Flight into Egypt’ is hung alongside his contemporaries and demonstrates his adaptation to Venetian characteristics in a way that began to form his own unique and recognizable style. It celebrates the ambition and innovation of one of our best-loved Masters. The recently and painstakingly restored artwork left Russia for the first time in 200 years, so this treat brought in thousands of happy visitors.
As you might imagine, the National Dining Rooms focus on classic British dishes. Influences are drawn from different eras and regions of Britain with all the food sourced from the best available British suppliers. Make sure that you get a window seat because the views of Trafalgar Square, the dim lighting and elegant decor make eating here a real dining treat.
Monday – Thursday 10.00 – 17.00
Friday 10.00 – 20.00
Saturday – Sunday 10.00 – 17.00
A grand continental theme runs through the National Café Restaurant, seen in the menu and the décor. A three-course meal and drinks won’t set you back too much, and there’s some truly fantastic food to choose from, from caesar salads and risotto, to perfetta rolls and gelato. The marble, wood, red leather, and piano creates a very atmospheric and almost Parisian wartime feel.
Monday – Friday 08.00 – 23.00
Saturday 10.00 – 23.00
Sunday 10.00 – 18.00
This deli-like café has a charismatic 20th century European feel to the décor, and the food is quintessentially British. There are masses of delicious cakes, cupcakes and sandwiches to choose from, alongside some really nice mustards and teas to take home to your loved ones.
Monday – Friday 10.00 – 18.00
Friday 09.00 – 21.00
The modern setting of the Espresso Bar is a cosy and relaxing place to have a quick bite and a coffee. While we chewed away on our baguettes and pastries we had a whirl on the award-winning interactive ArtStart system, where we were able to look at parts of the museum’s vast collection that we didn’t have time to see on our visit.
Monday – Thursday 10.00 – 17.30
Friday 10.00 – 20.45
Saturday and Sunday 10.00 – 17.30
The gift shops have a lot of London-centric souvenirs, publications and postcards relating to the permanent collection and arty things like oil paints and paintbrushes. They all have ‘take a masterpiece home’ sections where you can choose from over 2,000 works from the permanent collection to have printed and framed.
+44 (0) 20 7747 2885
Monday – Thursday 10.00 – 18.00
Friday 10.00 – 21.00
Sat – Sunday 10.00 – 18.00
Tube: Charing Cross (Bakerloo Line, Northern Line), Leicester Square (Piccadilly Line, Northern Line), Picadilly Circus (Picadilly Line, Bakerloo Line)
Train: London Charing Cross