Prior to the ‘60s, exhibitions at the NPG usually came rarely, and in the form of the year’s acquisitions hung in a line across a few walls. The introduction of temporary loan exhibitions was a move towards attracting much larger visitor numbers through elaborate and exciting themes and displays. The Winter Queen, although on par with the Gallery’s high standard and regal tone, played a major part in its transformation. It was the first of these temporary exhibitions at the NPG, and captivated around 10,000 additional visitors over its duration.
The Winter Queen had a distinctive ‘60s style, from its wallpaper to its photographed and blown up contemporary engravings. It used a classic, crowd pleasing Royal subject in new and interesting ways, and was a huge success. Items were borrowed from all over the country, including many private British collections, which made it a unique occasion – to see all the items together in context.
The Winter Queen was quickly followed by more exciting exhibitions, and the implemented changes altered the Gallery’s reputation for the better, and for good.
Information on all the NPG’s past exhibitions can be found at the Heinz Archive and Library.
Exhibition posters from the following years. To see more go to the Digitised Material tab.