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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National Skills Sharing Partnership Programme

Developing a learning network of museum and gallery professionals

Twelve museums and galleries from across the UK come together to engage in a skills and knowledge sharing programme. Together, with the National Portrait Gallery as the thirteenth partner, organisations explore the things that matter to their teams with the aim of benefitting their audiences and caring for the Collections they hold. 

At the heart of the programme are the development opportunities for staff from all thirteen partners including staff placements, mentoring, paid internships, peer to peer knowledge exchanges and seminars. The programme also provides an opportunity for partners to collaborate and co-produce displays and exhibitions at each venue.

What is a Portrait?

There is an over-riding theme throughout the programme of ‘What is a Portrait?’. Partners come together through a structured programme to address and interrogate this theme in relation to portraits within their own collections and the Gallery’s collection. By using the national collection, its operating models and its new interpretation and learning approaches developed through the Inspiring People project as a core resource, partners explore issues of identity and representation in portraits through the lens of their relevance to society today.


The National Portrait Gallery is the lead partner of the National Skills Sharing Partnership programme. The programme was developed in collaboration with four initiating partners: The Box – Plymouth, Nottingham City Museums & Galleries / Nottingham Castle, Gainsborough’s House – Sudbury, Ulster Museum – Belfast. Eight additional partners joined the programme in April 2021: Compton Verney Art Gallery, Laing Art Gallery, Watts Gallery, Hay Castle Trust, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge, Northampton Museum & Art Gallery and Derby Museums.

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Funded by The National Heritage Lottery Fund and Art Fund



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