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.

Inspiring Photographs: Collecting for the Future

5 October 2019 - 1 June 2020

Room 29, Floor 1

Free

Maisie Williams
by Miles Aldridge
2017
NPG x200784

The Photographs Department is one of the most active areas of collecting within the National Portrait Gallery. Within a remit that covers both contemporary and historic periods, an important area of new acquisitions aims to respond to recent political, social and cultural events. Such photographs not only celebrate the achievement of individuals who are making contributions to Britain and the world, but also are part of considerations about ideas of British identity that are increasingly relevant, such as ‘Who are we?’ or, ‘How does portraiture represent us and our stories?’  In working towards our major transformation project, Inspiring People, the Gallery’s biggest ever development, these questions have taken on particular significance. They have challenged our thinking about the strengths and the limits of the Collection; of who is seen and who is not represented.

Alongside contemporary musicians and politicians, the display includes women photographers, BAME artists and sitters, and members of the LGTBQ community, highlighting the Gallery’s ongoing commitment to represent diversity. The photographs in this room bring to light achievement in a wide range of fields and public life, reflecting the multiplicity of ideas and backgrounds shaping debate and marking the present, but also inspiring us towards the future.

Photographs Collection: Display