The National Gallery

The National Gallery in London

The collection in London all started in the early 1800's. At that time the English government acquired 38 valuable paintings upon the death of John Julius Angerstein.

From there, others began to donate works, and it became clear that there needed to be a place to house all these works of art. At first, the works were displayed in what was once Angerstein's home, but as the collection expanded, more space was needed. A dedicated building was built. It was expanded over the years to accommodate the growing amount of works that needed to be curated.

Much of the paintings were hidden away during World War II for the purposes of preservation. Initially, some officials considered taking the priceless artifacts overseas and out of Europe in order to keep them safe. Winston Churchill did not take kindly to the idea, and instead, the paintings were stored safely in a quarry where not only would they escape the brunt of the war, but they would also be preserved by the relatively stable temperature. During the war, some limited exhibitions were still held at the gallery in an attempt to establish some level of normalcy. Eventually, officials took to removing one painting per month from its hiding place and displaying them one at a time at the gallery. Once the war was over in 1945, the paintings were all returned to the gallery once again. After the war, the gallery went through a dry period when it came to acquisitions, as funding was not readily available. In time, however, it began to expand its collection until many major works came to be housed there.

Nowadays, the museum is quite large, and is roughly 46,000 square meters in size. Currently, the gallery holds over 2000 permanent art pieces. That in addition to traveling exhibitions that it may house from time to time. The works are set up like a timeline, and you can view them in accordance to their century of origin. The collection spans from works created as far back as the 1200's all the way to early 20th-century material. Particularly impressive are their renaissance works, which feature many famous artists of this time period. Major works that are housed in The National Gallery include The Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo da Vinci and Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh. The building itself is also worthy of artistic contemplation. As it features many different styles of architecture by many different prominent architects.

You can find this gallery in Trafalgar Square, a relatively easy journey from the East End. Its location was deliberately chosen—and first suggested by architect John Nash. Because it would be accessible to even the poorest people in London due to its location. The National Gallery was envisioned as a place that could be frequented by all subjects of the crown, and not merely the aristocratic class or the intellectual elite. All people can view the permanent collection at this gallery free of charge. That makes it an easy choice for cultural activities when visiting London.


Gallery informations

National Gallery
London WC2N 5DN, UK
020 7747 2885
Charing Cross
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