The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

National Programmes

The Gallery is committed to making the national collection of British portraits available around the country through an active national programme of partnerships, events and loaned works.

Coming Home

This exciting project sees the Gallery sending portraits of iconic individuals to places they are closely associated with. This country-wide initiative will enable fifty portraits from the national Collection to travel to towns and cities across the UK, providing venues and communities with the opportunity to celebrate their local heroes.

Coming Home

Montacute House

Montacute House in Somerset (National Trust) displays works from the 16-17th century alongside a programme of changing displays and exhibitions, events and activities produced in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery. 

Find out more

Collaborations and partnerships

In 2020, the Gallery launched its National Skills & Knowledge Exchange Programme with partner museums in Belfast, Nottingham, Plymouth and Sudbury, followed by a further eight other locations, to create a UK wide learning network involving collaborative displays, exchanges, mentoring, seminars and internships. Each organisation will have the opportunity to create a bespoke programme that fits their needs.

During the Gallery’s closed period, exhibitions collaborations are taking place with The Holburne Museum, Bath, National Museums Liverpool, York Museums Trust, Museums Sheffield and Hay Castle, Hay on Wye.

The Gallery is the lead partner for the Subject Specialist Network: Understanding British Portraits.

Subject Specialist Network: Understanding British Portraits

Inspiring People across the UK

The Gallery’s transformational Inspiring People project includes an extensive programme of nationwide activities. Over the next three years, ambitious partnerships with museums, local community groups and schools will bring the Gallery closer to communities across the UK. Download the PDF to find out how we are engaging with different areas.

Find out more Download the PDF

Touring Exhibitions

The Gallery tours exhibitions that have been shown at the Gallery in London to venues across the UK. Recent exhibitions include Hold Still on display at the National Memorial Arboretum, the BP Portrait Award 2020 at Aberdeen Art Gallery, and the forthcoming Tudors to Windsors at the National Maritime Museum.  Some of our exhibitions that would currently tour are now available online.

Past touring exhibitions Current touring exhibitions

Loans

The Gallery has over 1150 loans on long term loan to 173 venues. It also has an energetic programme of lending to exhibitions organised by other UK venues and for works in focus displays. For more information about how to borrow from the National Portrait Gallery Collection please see below. Please note that we are currently unable to process new requests for loans between 2021 and 2023 as we are at capacity with our existing national and international programme, and the completion of our Inspiring People project. We apologise for any inconvenience caused during this time. 

View loans policies

Watch

Our channel

View a wide collection of video content on our YouTube channel from past projects to our latest films.

Sit back and watch

Artist and sitter interviews

Get insights into creating portraiture from BP Portrait Award 2020 artists and their sitters.

Explore behind the scenes

Sleeping Awake

Watch our film created to say ‘goodbye’ to the Gallery before we closed for our major transformation project.

Hear our story