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.

Advanced Collection search

Road to 2012

Road to 2012

Road to 2012

Introduction

Welcome to the National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 project. Explore the journey towards the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games through the commissioned photographs, exclusive interviews with photographers and athletes, and behind-the-scenes shots.

Participation projects

The Road to 2012 participation projects focused on engaging local people living and studying in the six Olympic host-boroughs, and explored local views and perspectives. The projects celebrated local stories of inspiration, achievement and community. The following videos highlight A Local Story, a project with east London photographer Katherine Green.

Explore the video playlists below by clicking on the thumbnails.

Hackney CSV

Growing Greenwich

Lee Valley Riding Centre

Renewal Programme Refugee and Migrant Project, Newham

Aston-Mansfield, Newham

East London Disability Swim Group, Hackney

Blackheath Fencing Club, Greenwich

East London Wheelchair Athletics Group, Tower Hamlets

Branches, Waltham Forest

Repton Boxing Club, Tower Hamlets

Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre, Tower Hamlets

Young's Table Tennis Group, Greenwich

RLSB, Tower Hamlets

Portraits jointly commissioned with BT

In 2009 the National Portrait Gallery began the largest photographic commissioning project it has ever undertaken. The Gallery invited seven UK-based photographers to document the road to 2012. Working on location around the country, the project records the preparation towards the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

See the full list of portraits commissioned

Publication

Road to 2012 Stories Behind the Olympic Games

This remarkable collection of portraits showcases the men and women preparing for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Commissioned over three years, these photographs tell the incredible stories of all those responsible for the London Olympics as well as the athletes whose dream it is to take part. Together they provide an unparalleled record of the human ingenuity and skill involved in creating the world’s pre-eminent sporting event.

Find out more about the publication

Tour dates

  • Adjacent to Wales Millennium Centre at Cardiff Bay: 30 March – 27 May 2012
  • Mound Precinct, Edinburgh: 1 June – 8 July 2012
  • Centenary Way, Birmingham: 13 July – 9 September 2012

Press releases

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