Things to do at the National Portrait Gallery before it closes

The National Portrait Gallery is to close for three years to undergo renovation work.

The National Portrait Gallery in London will close for three years as part of a £35.5 million redevelopment project.

From 29 June 2020 the Gallery in St Martin’s Place will temporarily close while essential building works for the Inspiring People project take place.In the meantime, the Gallery's extensive art collection will travel across the UK.

The National Portrait Gallery will reopen in spring 2023.

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National Portrait Gallery

Here are just a few of the brilliant exhibitions taking place before they close for three years.

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2019

7 November 2019 – 16 February 2020

TheTaylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2019 is the leading international competition, open to all, which celebrates and promotes the very best in contemporary portrait photography from around the world.

Showcasing talented young photographers, gifted amateurs and established professionals, the competition, showcases a diverse range of images and tells the often fascinating stories behind the creation of the works.The selected images, many of which will be on display for the first time, explore both traditional and contemporary approaches to the photographic portrait whilst capturing a range of characters, moods and locations. The exhibition of fifty-seven works features all of the prestigious prize winners including the winner of the £15,000 first prize.

Tickets without donation: £6

David Hockney: Drawing from Life

27 February – 28 June 2020

The first major exhibition devoted to David Hockney’s drawings in over twenty years, David Hockney: Drawing from Life will explore Hockney as a draughtsman from the 1950s to now, by focusing on his depictions of himself and a small group of sitters close to him: his muse, Celia Birtwell; his mother, Laura Hockney; and friends, the curator, Gregory Evans, and master printer, Maurice Payne. Featuring around 150 works from public and private collections across the world, as well as from the David Hockney Foundation and the artist, the exhibition will trace the trajectory of his practice by revisiting these five subjects over a period of five decades.

The intimate portraits are rendered in pencil, pastel, ink and watercolour, using both traditional and non-traditional drawing equipment including coloured pencil, pen, the Polaroid camera and apps found on the iPhone and iPad.

Tickets without donation: £18-£20

National Portrait Gallery

Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things

12 March – 7 June 2020

Cecil Beaton’s portraits from a golden age will be brought together for the first time in a major new exhibition. Featuring around 150 works, many of which are rarely exhibited, Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things will explore the extravagant world of the glamorous and stylish ‘Bright Young Things’ of the twenties and thirties, seen through the eye of renowned British photographer Cecil Beaton. The exhibition will bring together loans from national and international collections and in particular an extensive loan from the Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s.

Tickets without donation: £18-£20

National Portrait Gallery

BP Portrait Award 2020

21 May – 28 June 2020

The BP Portrait Award is the most prestigious portrait painting competition in the world and represents the very best in contemporary practice. The competition is aimed at encouraging artists over the age of eighteen to focus upon, and develop, the theme of portraiture in their work. The competition, with a first prize of £35,000, has a huge international reach, with the BP Portrait Award 2019 receiving entries from 84 countries. The exhibition, which featured 44 paintings, was seen by 311,996 people at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Free admission

National Portrait Gallery

The transformed Gallery, designed by Jamie Fobert Architects, will reopen in spring 2023 with a comprehensive re-display of the Collection, significant refurbishment of the building and new public spaces including a more welcoming visitor entrance, public forecourt and state of the art Learning Centre.

During the redevelopment, the National Portrait Gallery, London will share its unique Collection of portraits with the nation in a major programme of activities across the UK, supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) and a major new grant from Art Fund.

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Jennifer Ebert
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Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.