Cultural Diversity at the National Portrait Gallery

Themes of identity lie at the heart of our work. The Gallery's policy is to represent people of achievement in British history and culture. This policy has remained constant since our foundation in 1856, and we continually review how to fulfil it and how to respond to the changing nature of society.

To read more about the National Portrait Gallery’s commitment to diversity see the Corporate plan.

This audit of cultural diversity at the Gallery includes research, publications, online resources, exhibitions, displays and projects. Its aim is to highlight the Gallery’s work to date and make research into cultural diversity in our Collection accessible. In addition, our weekly programme of events at the Gallery includes a rich mix of activity which explores cultural identity and reflects the rich cultural diversity of Britain. 

Cultural diversity in this context focuses on identity, race and representation. The Gallery seeks to engage and represent BAME (Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic) communities to reflect the cultural diversity of Britain. BAME is the terminology used in the UK to describe people of non-white descent. The word ‘black’ refers to people with origins in Africa or the Caribbean. The word ‘Asian’ refers to all Asian countries and regions, not to Bangladesh, India and Pakistan only.


Indira, Maharanee of Cooch Behar, by Dorothy Wilding, 1928 - NPG  - © William Hustler and Georgina Hustler / National Portrait Gallery, London

Indira, Maharanee of Cooch Behar
by Dorothy Wilding
1928
NPG P870(2)

1. Resources

  • Research Study on Representation of ‘Ethnic Minorities’ in the Collection of the NPG by Caroline Bressey 2001. Sponsored by the Hollick Trust

Research document available in the Heinz Archive and Library

  • Black Victorians: Black People in British Art 1800 – 1900. 2005 publication edited by Jan Marsh
  • Images in the Collection relating to cultural diversity are tagged online under ‘Diversity’ with the aim to support research by identifying and making available images.  Currently over 1500 portraits are included. The group includes black and Asian Sitters. The word ‘black’ refers to people with origins in Africa or the Caribbean. The word ‘Asian’ refers to all Asian countries and regions, not to Bangladesh, India and Pakistan only.
  • Images in the Collection are also tagged online under ‘People and Places’ with 150 countries tagging people associated to place.

2. Exhibitions

3. Displays and Projects

  • Dawoud Bey (1998)
    Dawoud Bey had a residency at the Gallery in 1998 and worked with high school and college students from three schools in London. He photographed Stuart Hall during the residency.