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Celebrating 200 Years of Artistic Inspiration at the National Gallery

The National Gallery art masterpieces projection at its 200 years Birthday
The National Gallery art masterpieces projection at its 200 years Birthday
Summary. My love is 200 years today! A hush falls over the crowd as they stand before Van Gogh's swirling sunflowers, their vibrant hues a testament to the artist's genius. It's a scene that has played out countless times within the hallowed halls of the National Gallery. A Bicentennial Birthday: Celebrating 200 Years of Artistic Inspiration at the National Gallery marks not just two centuries of housing these masterpieces, but two centuries of sparking wonder, igniting imaginations, and fostering a love for art in all who visit.

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In 2000, when I first came to the UK, I used to go to Aldwych to study English as a foreign language in Kings College London, and though I had a supportive community, there were many moments of nostalgia for that young introverted immigrant in me. So I used to go to my happy place across the Strand, The National Gallery, and the attached The National Portrait Gallery. I would stare at the paintings for hours, until the stewards tell me they are about to close. For one year, the national gallery served as my hidden sanctuary, for art needs no verbal language to inspire, it’s a language of its own. This weekend my love, The National Gallery, is 200 years old, and I can only imagine how many moments of happiness and inspiration it brought to Londonders and visitors over the centuries.


A Testament to Art that Inspires

Towering over London’s iconic Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery celebrates its 200th birthday this year. Two centuries of housing some of the world’s most revered paintings from Da Vinci to Monet, it has become a beacon for art lovers, a treasure trove for history buffs, and a testament to the enduring power of artistic expression. Under the massive building with its massive dome, are countless paintings and artefacts in the gallery, in addition to the temporary exhibitions, usually exhibited under the patronage of some of the biggest organisations and banks in the UK such as Credit Suisse. The national Gallery is part of the British art identity, it is an icon and a national treasure, in every meaning of the word.


From Private Collections to a Gallery for the Nation

Founded in 1824, the National Gallery’s story begins with a vision of public access to art. Unlike private collections of the time, it aimed to be a gallery for the nation, a place where everyone could experience the magic of masterpieces. Entry to the gallery is completely free, and including permanent exhibition, and some temporary free exhibitions. The Gallery also offers courses both on site and online about the art and history of art. The gallery is massive, and frankly, one day visit will not be enough if you want to properly admire the paintings. Take flat shoes, and immerse yourself in the gravitating masterpieces. The large space in the gallery rooms means despite the thousands of visitors daily, you will not feel crammed with the crowds, and you will definitely enjoy those serene moments of inspiration and thought revelation.


The national Gallery is part of the British art identity, it is an icon, in every meaning of the word.


A Haven for Masterpieces: Exploring the Collection’s Treasures

Inside its grand neoclassical walls, you will be transported through time. Sunflowers burst with vibrant life in Van Gogh’s iconic work. Botticelli’s ethereal Venus emerges from the sea in her timeless beauty. Gaze upon the serene Madonna of the Rocks by Leonardo da Vinci, or lose yourself in the intricate details of Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait. These are just a few of the countless treasures that have captivated audiences for generations.

Some of my personal favourite paintings are:

  1. The Arnolfini Portrait’ by Jan van Eyck
  2. Whistlejacket by George Stubbs
  3. Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo Da Vinci
  4. The water-lily pond by Claude Monet
  5. Sunflowers by Van Gogh
  6. The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein
  7. The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by Paul Delaroche


A Celebration Beyond the Canvas: The National Gallery Turns 200

The National Gallery’s bicentennial year is not only about looking back to the history of art, however. It is a vibrant celebration of art’s enduring legacy. Special exhibitions delve deeper into specific movements and artists, while educational programs ignite a passion for creativity in young minds. The recent “Big Birthday Weekend” of May 10th, called ‘NG200’, saw the gallery bathed in a spectacular light show, a fitting tribute to the luminous artworks within. The celebration highlighted the role art plays in society, and how its evolution both expresses and influences change in society and culture. The full NG200 program and exhibitions can be accessed through the gallery’s website under the headline: Bringing People and Paintings Together.


‘NG200: Bringing People and Paintings Together’


6 Things You Might Not Know About the National Gallery

The National Gallery’s rich history holds a few surprises even for seasoned art enthusiasts:

  1. A Brush with Danger: Believe it or not, a stray football once came crashing through a gallery window, nearly damaging a painting!
  2. A Canine Curator: Back in the 19th century, the gallery employed a trusty guard dog named Rex to keep a watchful eye on the precious artworks.
  3. Humble Beginnings: The National Gallery wasn’t always housed in its grand neoclassical building. It began by displaying its collection in a much smaller space at No. 100 Pall Mall.
  4. Turner’s Last Request: J. M. W. Turner, the famed British painter, stipulated in his will that his paintings be displayed in a single room, a request the National Gallery still honors today.
  5. More Than Just Paintings: While paintings are the National Gallery’s main focus, it also houses a small collection of sculptures, offering a glimpse into the artistic mastery beyond the canvas.
  6. Personal Tip: before you leave the gallery through the staircase into Trafalgar Square, stand on the balcony, you will see the iconic Nelson column in the square surrounded by the 4 lions, aligned in the background, is the even more iconic Big Ben clock tower. This is one of the best spots to take a photo in London.


More to Offer to Its Visitors

Side from the iconic masterpieces, The National Gallery offers its visitors many amenities to relax, chat, and have a break, before continuing the brows through the gallery rooms. The gallery has an Espresso Bar by Muriel’s, Muriel’s Kitchen diner, and the Ochre restaurant.  For souvenirs and art inspired merchandise, check out the shop before you leave. The facilities of the gallery go even beyond the daily amenities and into the once upon a time events. Did you know you can get marries in the National Gallery? they offer a list of venue hire from the gallery rooms where the walls are covered with the most iconic of paintings. The gallery also collaborates with a list of suppliers for catering, music, flower arrangement and decor, as well as offer its venues for film and photo shoot hire.


A Legacy That Continues: The National Gallery’s Future

As the National Gallery embarks on its third century, its commitment to artistic excellence remains unwavering. With ongoing renovations and acquisitions planned, it promises to continue inspiring future generations. So, whether you’re a seasoned art aficionado or simply curious to explore the beauty within, the National Gallery awaits. Let its 200 years of artistic heritage be your invitation to lose yourself in a world of wonder, where every brushstroke tells a story and every masterpiece ignites the imagination.

Disclaimer: The content of all our articles is protected by the Terms & Conditions policy. For license of content, please reach out to us directly, our information are on the contact us page.

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