Skip to main content

Access Policy

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 and the work of the gallery.

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 associated 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 upon arrival at the Gallery
  • Stools – available from the Information Desks on request. Visitors are welcome to bring their own folding stool. Pre-booked groups of adults can request stools in advance of their visit at the point of making a booking with the education department
  • 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 in advance of a visit. Phone 020 7747 2885 or e-mail
  • 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 provides uniformed staff trained in responding to emergencies, including fire safety, and first aid incidents.

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

Digital access

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
  • Wi-Fi 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. A media guide in BSL (British Sign Language) is available and an audio described tour for blind and partially sighted visitors will be available in 2016
  • Films accompanying the temporary exhibitions are subtitled
  • Films available on the website are subtitled and transcribed.

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:

Read more about Accessibility and Access including links to specific facilities and services.

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. Tickets must be booked in advance. Phone 020 7747 2885 or email

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.

Other policies

The Access policy informs, and is informed by, the following Gallery Policies:

Safeguarding Policy

Data Protection Policy


This policy will be reviewed every five years.

Policy availability

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.

  • This policy was approved by the Board of Trustees in 2014 and is now due for review in 2021 (delay due to COVID-19).
  • Policy owner: Director of Public Engagement