The National Gallery

Location Details


Trafalgar Square

Opening Times:

Sunday  1000 - 1800
Monday  1000 - 1800
Tuesday  1000 - 1800
Wednesday  1000 - 2100
Thursday  1000 - 1800
Friday  1000 - 1800
Saturday  1000 - 1800
Closed 24-26 December and 1 January

London's National Gallery, founded in 1824, its elegant dome and graceful colonnades, dominating the north side of Trafalgar Square, houses a rich collection of over 2,300 paintings from 1250 to 1900.

The collection, which is especially noted for its holdings of works from the High Renaissance and Impressionist ages, belongs to the British public: entry to the main collection is free, although there are charges for entry to special exhibitions.

The National Gallery has grown to be a collection of international renown, despite having been founded without an existing royal collection on which to build.

It was shaped mainly by its early directors, notably Sir Charles Lock Eastlake, and by private donations, which comprise two thirds of the collection.

Although small in comparison with other national art collections such as the Louvre, the National Gallery is notable for covering a broad art-historical scope with paintings of consistently high quality, making it possible to trace every major development in Western painting from the Early Renaissance to the Post-impressionists.

The National Gallery is committed to the widest possible access to the national collection of Western European painting from c.1250 - c.1900, which it houses, conserves and displays. The paintings are held for everyone regardless of education, income, residence, or personal circumstances. The Gallery's aim is to make physical access to the collection as easy as possible for all; to enable everyone as far as possible to have access to scholarship and information about the collection; and to allow everyone to enjoy and study the collection in as many ways as possible.

As a service provider and equal opportunities employer, the Gallery aims to comply with the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and with the amendments made since.

With the above in mind, the Gallery has reviewed the services which it offers to the public, made an assessment of where improvements might be made to advance equality of access and ease of use, and drawn up measures for their implementation as far as resources allow. Progress is monitored by an in-house group, the Access Group, set up for the purpose.

The Access Group was set up in 1995 to review the Gallery's provision for visitors and staff with disabilities; to make improvements where and when possible; and to develop a programme for the future. Since then, the Gallery has involved and consulted disabled people in devising and developing its programmes.

The Gallery's first access audit was carried out by the Joint Mobility Unit of the RNIB and the GDBA.

Before initiating a scheme to provide access to the collection for those with visual impairments, the Gallery held a seminar to consult as widely as possible. Among those attending were representatives from Art through Touch, the Royal London Society for the Blind, In Touch, Islington, MAGDA, and the Living Paintings Trust as well as a number of individuals including regular Gallery visitors with sight impairment. The Gallery also worked closely with the RNIB in developing the resultant scheme.

Having set up a programme for hearing impaired people, the Gallery began working with a 'Deaf Host', an artist living and working in London, to meet and greet BSL users on arrival at the Gallery, to answer their questions, and following their tour to gather their comments. The resulting information has been used to influence ongoing enhancement of the programme.

The Gallery's new interactive computer system, ArtStart, was developed from the early planning stage, with the Digital Media Access Group at Dundee University. The Group conducted tests with users aged 17 to 70 who possessed a variety of cognitive and visual impairments such as dyslexia and age-related macular degeneration. The resulting report was used to make modifications to the system such as increasing in size certain on-screen texts.

This is a picture of The National Gallery viewed from Trafalgar Square.
This is a picture of The National Gallery viewed from Trafalgar Square.

Access Symbols Explained:

  • Facilities for partially sighted or blind people We provide facilities for people who are visually impaired. For example: Braille formats, large print, audio tapes etc.
  • Assistance dogs welcome Assistance dogs are welcome in our premises.
  • Assisted wheelchair access Wheelchair access into our premises is possible with assistance.
  • Non assisted wheelchair access Full, non-assisted, wheelchair access into our premises is possible.
  • Facilities for the mobility impaired We provide facilities for people with a mobility impairment. For example: A seating area, hand rails etc.
  • Customer toilet facilities We provide customer toilets.
  • Accessible toilets We have fully accessible toilets installed at our premises.
  • Sign language for deaf people We offer a sign language service; please ask our staff for full details.
  • Facilities for hard of hearing people We offer facilities for hard of hearing people.
  • Induction loop available An induction loop has been installed to benefit our hard of hearing customers.
  • Customer parking facilities We provide customer car parking.
  • Accessible car parking We provide accessible car parking spaces for disabled customers.
  • Staff assistance available Our staff have been trained to offer excellent service levels, please ask if you have any particular requirements.
  • Low Payment Counters including clipboards, dropdown counters, lap trays and portable chip & pin Low payment counters or an alternative such as portable chip and pin machine, a lap tray or a clipboard.
  • Customer lift provided A customer lift has been provided.
  • Accessible lift provided An accessible customer lift has been installed, improving access for wheelchair users.
  • Parent with pushchair access Our premises are accessible to parents with a pushchair or pram.
  • Baby changing facilities We provide baby changing facilities.
  • Accessible baby changing facilities Accessible baby changing facilities are available.
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