National Gallery Access Policy
The National Gallery is committed to the widest possible access to the national collection of paintings in the Western European tradition to around 1900, which it houses, conserves and displays. The collection is on show 361 days a year, free of charge. The paintings are held for everyone regardless of education, income, residence, or personal circumstances.The National Gallery is committed to free access for all.
The Gallery's aim is to make physical access to the collection as easy as possible for all; to enable everyone to enjoy and study the collection in as many ways as possible and to ensure access to information and scholarship about the collection.
As a service provider and equal opportunities employer, the Gallery complies with the Equalities Act 2010. The Gallery has an in-house Access working group, responsible for improving equality in all aspects of the Gallery’s services and ensuring we meet legal requirements and regulations.
The National Gallery’s five key strategic objectives are to:
- Preserve, enhance and develop the potential of our collection for our public
- Broaden our appeal and enhance our visitor experience
- Inspire learning and engagement
- Invest in our staff
- Increase income and care for our physical facilities
The Access Policy is critical to the fulfilment of all five of these objectives.
Buildings and Services
The Gallery seeks to provide all visitors with access to the building, making alternative provision where required, within the constraints of a Grade One Listed Building. It ensures that current and future building projects provide appropriate physical access for all visitors. Expert advice is sought where required. Some of the facilities we provide include:
- Wheelchairs - available on request
- Stools - available from the Information Desks on request. Visitors are welcome to bring their own folding stool
- Four entrances have level access: the Getty, Sainsbury Wing, National Café and Pigott Education Centre entrances and Lifts between all floors
- Assistance dogs are welcome
- Adapted toilets, baby changing rooms, drinking fountains and first aid rooms are located around the building
- There is one access parking bay available by booking
- Induction loops at desks, in conference room facilities and for theatre talks and films
Safety in the building
The Gallery takes account of the needs of all visitors in all our safety procedures. It is the policy of the Gallery to enable all occupants of the building to be evacuated at the same time in an emergency.
The Gallery also provides all fire marshals, uniformed staff, and staff trained in first aid with training in the evacuation of people with disabilities and other emergency procedures.
Information and signage
The Gallery aims to provide information in forms that are accessible to all visitors. Some of the resources we provide include:
- Large print versions of the floor plan
- Large print labels – for the collection and temporary exhibitions
We provide digital access to our collection and resources on and offsite in the following ways:
- Through our website
- Social media channels
- Digital content made available through the medium of film and audio content on our channel
- Wifi in the Gallery and other public areas
- Audio Guide - audio guide with commentaries on over 1000 paintings in the National Gallery collection. There is also a choice of themed tours and an audio tour of 80 highlights of the collection in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, Polish, Korean and Portuguese. Transcripts for the collection tours can be requested from Information Desks. We are adding tours in BSL and audio described tours for blind and partially sighted visitors – these will be available in 2015
- Films accompanying the temporary exhibitions are subtitled
The Gallery reviews digital access regularly. Audience requirements are determined through research, testing and feedback. We have designed the website to standards that make it easy for our audiences to get the information they need:
Learning about the Collection
The Gallery delivers a wide range of learning programmes for different audiences, designed to suit different levels of knowledge, backgrounds, interests and learning styles.
The Gallery continues to consult people with disabilities, specialist organisations, and other museums and galleries, on the best and most practical ways of improving intellectual access. Some of the services we provide include:
- Free sessions for blind and partially sighted visitors
- British Sign Language (BSL) interpreted talks and tours
- Live speech-to-text captioning provided by STAGETEXT
- SEN resources and taught sessions for children
- Tactile line diagrams and Braille interpretation of a small selection of paintings
- Exhibition tickets – Visitors with access requirements are eligible for concessions on exhibition tickets and may bring an escort free of charge
Employment and training
The Gallery ensures that its employment practices do not discriminate against people with disabilities and maintains a system for monitoring and reviewing procedures.
Equality and Diversity awareness forms an integral part of induction training for all new staff in visitor facing roles.
The National Gallery Access Group meets regularly to discuss improvements to the Gallery's provision and to agree upon recommendations for further action. Recommendations from the Group are approved by and implemented through the Executive Committee, and, where appropriate, by the Trustees.
The most recent comprehensive Access Review was conducted in May 2010.
The Access policy informs, and is informed by, the following Gallery Policies:
Safeguarding Policy 2014
Health and safety Policy 2013 (rev)
Data Protection policy 2005
Flexible Working policy 2009
This policy will be reviewed every five years.
A copy of this policy is available to all members of the public via our website and on request from our contact points in the Gallery entrances.
- Date on which this policy was approved by the Board of Trustees: 17 July 2014
- Date on which this policy is due for review 17 July 2019
- Policy Owner: Director of Public Engagement