Planning your visit - FAQ

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Advice for School Groups & Colleges at the Gallery

We welcome school and college group visits to the National Portrait Gallery. We hope that you enjoy your visit to the Gallery and ask that you read these guidelines before booking and making your visit in order to plan a successful visit to the Gallery for you and your class .

How do I make a booking for my class?

Advance booking is essential for all groups, for both taught sessions and self-directed visits.
We require a minimum of one month notice to book a visit.  Please refer to the ‘Booking your class visit’ and ‘Booking Checklist’ pages in order to make a booking. In preparation for your visit please also see our risk assessment pages.

What if we need to cancel our booking?

Please be aware that Cancellations, non-attendance and change of booking date charges apply for facilitated sessions.
Please note charges apply with immediate effect at point of booking. Charges are listed on the ‘Booking your class visit’ page.

How do we get to the Gallery?

The Gallery is located opposite the Church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, north of Trafalgar Square.  The nearest Underground stations are Leicester Square and Charing Cross and there is a mainline station at Charing Cross.  Parking is not available at the Gallery however if you are travelling by coach there is a lay-by just outside the Gallery for drop-off and pick-up only.

For a map and further transport and accessibility details please see the ‘getting to the Gallery pages

Where is the group entrance?

Enter via the main entrance in St Martin’s Place.  Accessible entrance to the Gallery is either via our Gallery Shop on St Martin’s Place or the entrance on Orange Street, please check which is more appropriate when booking.

What if we are running late for a facilitated Gallery session?

If you are having a taught session please allow plenty of time on arriving at the Gallery for your group to use the cloakroom and toilet facilities in order to start your session on time. Unfortunately if you are late it may not be possible to extend your session.

What if we are running late for our exhibition ticket timing?

Please plan your travel and arrival at the Gallery to ensure that you can pay for and collect your tickets at your booked time. One group leader should pay for and collect the group’s exhibition tickets, currently from the Ticket Collection Desk. Entry to the exhibition cannot be guaranteed if you miss the time you have been booked to visit the exhibition, please call us on 020 7312 2483 if you are running late. Please call us as soon as possible if you cannot visit the Gallery on your booked day so we can release tickets to other visitors.

Is there an admission charge?

Admission to the Gallery is free.  Facilitated booked sessions are free unless otherwise stated. Some temporary exhibitions have an admission charge. Pre-booked groups are entitled to a reduced exhibition group ticket rate. Please check when booking.

Where does the group sign in on arrival?

To ease over-crowding in the entrance and Main Hall, large groups are asked to wait outside the Gallery or outside the Ondaatje Wing Lecture Theatre on Level -2 while one group leader signs in; please have your copy of your confirmation letter with you. Please sign in at the Welcome point just outside the Main Hall or at the Ticketing Desk in the Main Hall.

Where do we meet for our Educator for a guided visit?

Your Educator will meet you on arrival at the Main Entrance. Alternatively please go to the Welcome point or Ticket Collection Desk where the Educator will be contacted. Group leaders will be given a badge to wear while in the Gallery so that they are easily identifiable. Once signed in please proceed to the schools cloakroom to deposit all bags or go to the designated Gallery room. 

Where do we go for a self-guided visit?

Sign in for your self-guided visit at the Ticket Collection desk in the Main Hall. Group leaders will be given a badge to wear while in the Gallery so that they are easily identifiable. Please brief your students and pupils about the Gallery guide lines and ensure that your group splits up into smaller groups in particularly crowded areas of the Gallery.

A range of learning resources are available to support your visit.

Where can we leave our coats and bags?

If you would like to deposit your bags and coats, please ask staff at the Information Desk about access to the schools cloakroom. It is advisable to reduce the amount of personal belongings you bring on your visit. Valuables should not be left in the cloakroom and all belongings are left at the owner’s risk. We regret that the cloakroom cannot be used as a space for eating packed lunches. At busy times priority use of the cloakroom is for groups on a facilitated visit.

Do you have a lunchroom?

We regret that there are currently no facilities for eating packed lunches at the Gallery. Please take this into consideration when booking visits to the Gallery during the winter months. Groups usually eat in Trafalgar Square or St James’ Park, which are very close by.

How can our group visit the shop?

Please divide your group into groups of 10 or less to ease access to the shop and to ensure you are able to look around comfortably.

Group leaders are responsible for the behaviour of their pupils throughout the visit.  We reserve the right to ask groups who do not respect these guidelines to leave the Gallery. 

What are the Gallery guidelines?

When in the Gallery please ensure that your group:

  • Are supervised at all times
  • Are divided into small supervised groups (maximum permitted per room is 30 people at a time)
  • Only use the gallery rooms you have booked (please check your confirmation letter) and avoid visiting any rooms as a group where teaching is taking place.
  • Do not eat or drink (including chewing gum) anywhere in the Gallery
  • Do not use mobile telephones
  • A limited use of photography, without flash, is allowed in the Gallery, please observe Gallery notices
  • Take care – do not run, get too close or touch the artworks
  • Use the lifts and escalators responsibly
  • Only use dry art materials (excluding charcoal and chalk) and do not lean on the walls or plinths whilst drawing
  • Are quiet – please be aware that loud voices echo and disturb others
  • Do not use stools or materials that have been put out for other groups
  • Are prepared to move if requested to do so by a member of the warding staff
  • Behave at all times with consideration towards other people visiting the Gallery

We hope you enjoy your time at the Gallery. If you have any further questions or feedback please do get in touch.