After three years of closure, the world-renowned National Portrait Gallery is finally returning on June 22, 2023. That’s tomorrow, folks!
Having been open since 1856, the building has been receiving its most extensive redevelopment project since the close of the 19th century—1896, to be precise! The gallery shut in June 2020, and new works include a brand new entrance to increase the capacity.
At first, it was thought the gallery – which houses over 215,000 works – would reopen in spring 2022, but Covid-induced delays to building mean it will come a few months after this initial prediction. By the sounds of it, though, the new-look gallery will be worth the wait.
What’s new at the National Portrait Gallery?
We mentioned the brand new entrance, which comes alongside the forecourt on the North Façade of the Gallery. Plus the upgrades to spaces mean the entire collection at the gallery can be displayed, meaning you can take in more art than ever in their space.
The East Wing, which was part of the 1896 revamp, is also making a return; now named the Weston Wing. Office spaces that temporally held part of the space are being transformed into top-lit galleries on the first floor. There’s also a brand new learning centre to transform the education the gallery can deliver.
What’s on at the National Portrait Gallery when it reopens?
Upon its opening, the National Portrait Gallery will run a First Look Festival (June 22 – July 6) to allow visitors to reconnect with the space they’ve missed for the last three years. There will also be an exhibition called Yevonde: Life And Colour, which runs until October and examines the pioneering photographer.
From June 28 until October, the gallery will also run Paul McCartney Photographs 1963–64: Eyes of the Storm, a selection of snaps from the legendary Beatle at the time when the fab four were rising to worldwide domination.
Later in the year, frequenters of the National Portrait Gallery can also look forward to the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize 2023, a David Hockney exhibition, and many more. (keep up to date with all exhibitions running at the National Portrait Gallery here)
When the comeback was announced, news that excited the world of art hit their Instagram page, the famous gallery’s account said:
“Today is the day that we have all been waiting for… we are excited to announce that our doors will reopen to the public on 22 June 2023.
“Having been closed since 2020, the Gallery has been undergoing its most extensive redevelopment since 1896. Supported by major grants from the Blavatnik Family Foundation, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Ross Foundation, as well as Reopening Partner, Herbert Smith Freehills.
“Visitors to the new National Portrait Gallery will experience a complete redisplay of the Collection, a transformational refurbishment of the building, as well as an enhanced welcome and greater access through our new entrance.”
It’s officially time to get excited to stare at portraits again. You can sign up to the National Portrait Gallery newsletter to be the first to hear about their 2023/24 exhibition programme.
Read more about the opening here.