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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Audio guide © John Walmsley

Audio guide
© John Walmsley


Enjoy a personal audio-visual tour with our new hand-held guides, which feature interactive maps, short films introducing British history and over 300 fascinating commentaries.  Listen to the voices of people such as Sir Winston Churchill and Virginia Woolf, hear interviews with contemporary sitters and artists, and try out one of our themed tours. All this for only £3!

A selection of featured portraits have a special descriptive recording for visually impaired visitors. Seventy-five recordings are available in French, German, Italian, Spanish and Japanese and neck loops are available for hard of hearing visitors.

Find out more about the audio guide

Gallery Talk - © John Walmsley

Gallery Talk
© John Walmsley


The Gallery is open until 21.00 on Thursdays and Fridays. On Friday nights visitors can experience a wide variety of free music events ranging from chamber and folk music to Jazz and brand new compositions.

Friday night music


The Gallery's staff get to know the portraits in our Collection very well. And every Saturday at 12.00 you can hear their personal insights at a free ‘Portrait of the Day' Gallery Talk, when a member of the team discusses a work that interests them. Plus there are regular free talks by writers, historians and artists on a variety of themes ranging from the Civil War to ‘How to Wear Hats' and special events and workshops for families and young people.

Find out about our events  programme Forthcoming Gallery Talks
Forthcoming lectures
Family events
Events for young people

Visit From Your Armchair

Self-portrait as My Father from the series Encounter  by Silvia Rosi © Silvia Rosi

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize

An online exhibition celebrating the very best in contemporary portrait photography.

Visit now

Hold Still

Hold Still

Explore our community photography project, which presents a personal record of the UK during lockdown.

Explore the exhibition

Margaret Thatcher by Spitting Images Productions Ltd painted plastic, 1985

Sculptures in 360°

See sculptures and fascinating objects from our Collection from all angles.

View the 360s

David Hockney: Drawing from Life

Watch highlights from our special exhibition, which had to close early in March 2020 due to lockdown.

See the video