Gallery Sessions and Theatre Talks

Gallery Sessions

Gallery Discovery Tours

An explorative, lively gallery tour, engaging students directly with works from our permanent Collection. 

Gallery Discovery Tour: 1 hour, maximum 25 students

Illustrated Talks

Interactive PowerPoint lectures look at works within and outside our Collection to explore a theme. Held in the Ondaatje Wing Lecture Theatre, these talks are ideal for larger classes and a great starter for before gallery visits or drawing activities.

Illustrated Talks: 1 hour

ORDER AND/OR DISORDER: GCSE Art Exam Support Study for Students and Teachers (Edexcel).

This GCSE exam support session will begin with a lively and interactive talk in our lecture theatre, lead by an experienced gallery teacher. Participants will have the opportunity to investigate contextual sources through analysing the different aspects of the ‘Order and/or Disorder’ exam theme in portraiture, followed by a self-directed visit to the Collection, where students will be given notes and prompts to encourage them to explore and record their ideas and insights further.

Book a 1 hour slide talk presentation for your classes in the Ondaatje Wing Lecture Theatre followed by unlimited time in the gallery spaces:

Wed 12 February 2014 11.30 – 12.30 or 13.00 – 14.00

Wed 26 February 2014  11.30 – 12.30 or 13.00 – 14.00

Creative Connections

New this year

Creative Connections: until Sept 8 only

Focusing on the exciting Creative Connections project currently on display,  Students have the opportunity to explore the work and make artistic connections throughout the Gallery, comparing and contrasting visual styles, approaches, context and content of the works.

Creative Connections is generously supported by the Palley family

Fashion and Adornment 

In the gallery’s vast collection, clothes, accessories,  jewels and makeup can be seen to reinforce character and status. Students will be encouraged to explore and interpret different styles of fashion, adornment and costume from the Tudors to Contemporary Portraits.  

Image and Identity
Who are you?

Young people are continuously exploring how to convey to others who they are and what they feel. Our teaching staff use a variety of teaching models including object association to promote lively discussion and enquiry, exploring ways in which portraits of British achievers from our time and from history can be interpreted in terms of the sitter's own image and identity.

The Self-Portrait
Look at me, what do you see?

Discover the mood, form and process behind some of the most interesting self- portraits in our Collection. Exploring self-presentation and context, students are encouraged to enquire through a variety of learning models including discussion, object association and interpretation.

The Photographic Portrait

Students observe samples from the gallery’s extensive collection of photographs to explore and make connections between a wide variety of forms and processes, considering the relationships between contemporary approaches and older works to express their own ideas and observations.

Signs and Symbols

Can you crack the codes?

Artists have used the language of visual symbols for centuries, for example, a rose or a skull can suggest love or death. Explore symbolism in works from the Tudors to the contemporary collection, detecting hidden meanings and messages throughout the gallery.

The Abstract Portrait

Starting with Patrick Heron, students explore and discuss the use of abstraction in portraiture, through observing a variety of portraits.

Gallery Sessions

The 3D Portrait

Students respond to a variety of sculptures in the gallery, discussing the different techniques and approaches taken by the artist to depict a portrait in three-dimensions.

20th Century Portraits

Students are given the opportunity to discuss the context and content of key examples in the Gallery’s vast twentieth-century portrait collection.


Sketchbook Skills

Suitable for GCSE or A-Level.

All sessions Monday to Wednesday 14:00 – 15:00

Led by our Learning Freelancer team of artists and teachers, these sessions aim to sharpen your students’ observation and sketchbook skills, giving students’ new ways to develop their sketchbooks in the Gallery spaces.  

Derek Boshier, by Tony Evans, March 1962 - NPG  - © estate of Tony Evans

Derek Boshier
by Tony Evans
March 1962
NPG x131145

Temporary Exhibition Specials

Make the most of our temporary exhibitions and displays through In Focus Theatre Talks, which can be extended by a self directed visit in the Permanent Collection.

Please note that it is not possible to teach in the temporary exhibition spaces, however, wherever possible, we will supply relevant worksheets and guidelines for students and provide online learning resources.

Contemporary Painted Portraits -
BP Portrait Award 2013, 20 Jun – 15 Sep 2013

Laura Knight Portraits
, 11 Jul – 20 Oct 2013

Elizabeth I and her People –
10 Oct 2013 – 5 Jan 2014

Contemporary Photographic Portraits -
Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2013, 7 Nov 2013 - 9 Feb 2014

Bailey’s Stardust
, 6 Feb – 1 Jun 2014 Introductory illustrated talk looking at key works, themes and techniques in the Bailey’s Stardust exhibition priming your students for their self-directed visit to the exhibition.

The Great War in Portraits
, 27 Feb – 9 Jun 2014

Please note some exhibition dates and details may change. Please see here for up to date information.

Temporary Displays:

Creative Connections - 10 June - 8 September 2013

Jacob Epstein: Portrait Sculptor - 28 March - 24 November 2013

Queens and Consorts: Likeness in Life and Death - 12 June 2013 - 28 February 2014

Jonathan Yeo - 11 September – 5 January 2014

Imaginary Portraits: Derek Boshier 28 September 2013 – May 2014

Please check website for more up and coming displays in the Gallery

Please note some exhibition dates and details may change. Please see here for up to date information.

Further information:

  • All sessions listed can be booked whenever the necessary rooms and staff are available.
  • We can ‘tailor make' a session for you to fit a particular class project or teaching approach.
  • We can offer Gallery Sessions within selected Galleries upon request. Please select from: sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth centuries or contemporary portraits.