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.

Inga Fraser

Inga Fraser

Former Assistant Curator (Contemporary & 20th Century Collections)

My Posts:

Job description

I assisted senior period curators in researching portrait acquisitions, covering a broad range of artists, styles and media. I worked closely with the Contemporary Curator Sarah Howgate on commissions, whereby the Gallery selects – after a process of discussion involving Trustees, staff and the public – four or five subjects of whom we wish to commission a portrait. I curated smaller displays within the Ground Floor and First Floor galleries: focusing on particular themes or groupings to highlight works within the Collection. My past displays have included On Paper: On Paper: Portraits of Writers, Poetry of Motion and Richard Hamilton: Portraits of the Artist. Day-to-day I administered changes to the period hangs that result from loans and other changes, contribute to the Gallery’s public programme of talks and tours and answer public enquiries.


I studied History and History of Art at Goldsmiths College and Birkbeck College, University of London, respectively. I joined the National Portrait Gallery in 2007, initially working on a number of cataloguing projects with the Photographs Collection and later contributing research to exhibitions including Beatles to Bowie: the 60s exposed and Hoppé Portraits: Society, Studio and Street. From 2009 to 2011 I was concurrently Associate Curator of Fashion in Film: a research project based at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design exploring fashion and clothing in historic and contemporary moving image. I was appointed to this role at the Gallery in 2011.

Research interests

My master’s dissertation explored the negotiation of public identity in the self-portraits taken by the early twentieth-century society hostess, patron of the arts and amateur photographer, Lady Ottoline Morrell. Continued research into Morrell’s literary and sartorial archive resulted in an expanded essay which will be published next year. My current research focuses on the uses of dress and the interior in the context of art, film and performance in relation to a construction of the body/ self; and I have spoken on these topics at conferences and symposia internationally at venues including the Museum of the Moving Image, New York, Design Museum Holon, Tel Aviv, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam and the British Film Institute, London.

Recent Publications

Forthcoming publications include ‘Body, Room, Photograph: Negotiating identity in the self-portraits of Lady Ottoline Morrell’ in Biography, Identity and the Modern Interior (ed. Penny Sparke and Anne Massey) (London: Ashgate, 2013) and 'Born Fully Clothed: the Significance of Costume for the Silent Cinema Vamp’ in Birds of Paradise: Costume as Cinematic Spectacle (ed. Marketa Uhlirova) (London: Koenig, 2013).