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REVIEW : National Portrait Gallery

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

After a three-year refurb the National Portrait Gallery finally threw open its new (Tracey Emin etched) bronze doors on the 22 June. Part of the magnificent revamp, forty-five female faces now greet you as your enter through their glowing stone entrance on St Martin's Lane (helping to counteract the 14 white male painters who look down from above).

A colossal rebirth.....costing a whacking £41 mil, the transformation is impressive. The whole collection has been redisplayed, there's a new entrance, a public forecourt and a new learning centre. The building has been painted and polished from top to toe and it is shining! Light now streams in from every angle (they unblocked lots of windows) all enhanced by a new state of the art lighting system.

All the portraits are arranged chronologically kicking off with the Tudors on the 3rd floor and ending with the more contemporary portraits on floor 0. We suggest you head up the long escalator in the gallery entrance then work your way back down through all the floors. We've picked out three of our favourites below. There's been a big gender rebalance too (at last) with over 48% of portraits in the galleries picturing women.

The old shop at the front of the building has been turned into a bright and buzzy new cafe with heaps of portraits adorning the walls. Audrey Green Cafe opens at 8am each morning so you can have a cuppa and a pastry before the gallery opens.

Larry's Bar (in honour of Sir Laurence) was previously used for basement coal storage. It's now totally transformed into the most glamorous cocktail bar, enjoy light bites during the day and a Hepburn Martini (almost others) by night. Open until 11pm Tues-Thurs and midnight on Saturdays and Sundays.

Emily choosing her cocktail !

A magnificent reinvention for everyone to enjoy just in time for the summer holidays.

Open daily from 10.30am


By Julia Colls 21 June 2023


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