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Modern and Contemporary Art at the National Gallery

A dialogue between the art of the past and the present

Working with today's artists

Practicing artists have always held a central position at the National Gallery. The collection has been a source of inspiration to artists from all over the world, including modern masters such as Francis Bacon, Paula Rego, Bridget Riley, Kehinde Wiley, Rosalind Nashashibi, and many others.

Today we offer a vibrant programme of artist residencies, commissions, exhibitions, talks, film screenings, and workshops. 

About the programme

Contemporary residencies

Connecting the world's most innovative artists with the nation's iconic collection.

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Internationally celebrated artists produce large-scale, seminal projects to be presented within the Gallery.

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Contemporary exhibitions

Modern and contemporary exhibitions in dialogue with the collection.

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Our events approach the collection and our exhibitions in new and exciting ways both in the Gallery and online.  Find out what's on.

Unexpected views

Monthly conversations between our curators and some of the most important cultural practitioners of today.

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'Dance to the Music of Our Time'

A live and online exhibition of performances, talks and screenings presented alongside the 2022 exhibition Poussin and the Dance.

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History of the programme

Image: Paula Rego, Associate Artist (1990–2) Photo: © The National Gallery, London

Look back at our past projects and exhibitions with modern and contemporary artists at the National Gallery

Contemporary artists have continually engaged with the National Gallery Collection throughout our history ever since our foundation in 1824. In recent years, the collection’s relevance to artists is still as vital as it was 200 years ago.

When the Gallery was founded it was specified that for two days each week Gallery access would be dedicated exclusively to practising artists. This space gave them the opportunity to study the collection,  become familiar with the paintings and create new works. Artists working in the Gallery have also brought new perspectives to research, asked questions and expanded the way we look at and think about the National Gallery Collection.

Explore recent projects with contemporary artists, through exhibitions, past commissions, and events. Watch past talks and learn about how artists have been inspired by the Gallery’s collections in broad and diverse ways.

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The National Gallery Modern and Contemporary Programme is supported by