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.

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Gallery Records

Heinz Archive and Library opening hours
Tuesdays from 10.00 to 17.00 by appointment only

020 7321 6617 (Type Talk: 18001)
[email protected]

National Portrait Gallery
St Martin's Place
London WC2H 0HE


The Gallery Records contain material relating to the Gallery's activities since its foundation in 1856.  Visitors may consult these resources in the Archive and Library Public Study Room, but must make a booking to do so.

Search the Archive Catalogue

The records document the history, development and activities of the Gallery, including:

  • the history and provenance of works of art in the Gallery's Collections
  • the management of portraits in the Collections, including acquisition, display, conservation, and research
  • the organisation of exhibitions
  • the development of the building
  • the development of public access and education programmes
  • the development of Gallery policy in all areas of business


The Archive recently embarked on a major cataloguing programme.  To date approximately 20,000 records (about one third of the Gallery's archival records) have been catalogued. The catalogue is available to view online. Records will continue to be added on a regular basis. 

Search the Archive Catalogue

Poster advertising The Winter Queen exhibition held at the Gallery 1963-64 (Ref: Gallery Records NPG/32/57/8)

Poster advertising The Winter Queen exhibition held at the Gallery 1963-64 (Ref: Gallery Records NPG/32/57/8)

The Gallery's records are public records.  Although they are generally available for public consultation, some information in them, such as personal data or information supplied to the Gallery in confidence, may be restricted under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998, and the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

For the first time, the National Portrait Gallery is starting to provide online access to parts of its fascinating Archive. These journeys focus on two remarkable periods in the Gallery’s history: the life and work of the first Director, Sir George Scharf and its wartime activities.

View the Archive Journeys


Tudor and Elizabethan matching pairs

Test your memory by playing our matching pairs game. Three levels of difficulty make it fun for the whole family.

Test your skill

Regency familiar faces

Rearrange tiles to uncover sitters from the Gallery's Collection by playing our puzzle game.

Play today

Who do you think you were?

Answer a few lifestyle questions about the Elizabethan period and discover your inner Elizabethan!

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