Visitor Admissions Policy
Welcome to the National Gallery, London.
The National Gallery ('Gallery') houses the national collection of paintings in the Western European tradition from the 13th to the early 20th centuries. The collection belongs to the nation and is open to the public 361 days a year, free of charge.
To help us protect the collection, please follow this visitor policy and the instructions of our staff. Thank you for your cooperation. We hope you enjoy your visit to the Gallery.
1. Opening Hours
1.1. The Gallery is open daily from 10am–6pm and until 9pm on Fridays.
1.2. The Gallery is closed 24–26 December and 1 January.
1.3. Please check nationalgallery.org.uk for the latest visitor information.
2.1. General admission to the Gallery is free.
2.2. We may charge for some temporary exhibitions and events.
2.3. The Gallery can become very busy and crowded. Please always show consideration and respect for other visitors.
3. Conditions of entry, bag searches and security
3.1. We do not allow the following anywhere in the Gallery:
- knives, sharp objects or other potentially dangerous or harmful items;
- the sale of goods or services or the display of goods or services for sale;
- the distribution of printed or recorded materials of any kind;
- the distribution of campaign materials;
- displayed or wearable paraphernalia deemed as offensive or affiliated to organisations that pose a physical threat to the collection;
- any unsafe act or other act that may impede the operation of the Gallery; and
- the wearing of motorbike helmets.
3.2. Bags are checked on arrival so please allow extra time for security checks. We reserve the right not to allow any bag, parcel, or other item to be brought into the Gallery and to deal with any unattended object in a way we consider appropriate.
3.3. We operate a secure, closed-circuit television (CCTV) system throughout the Gallery for the protection and safety of our visitors, staff, collection, and property. Please see our General Privacy Notice on our website for further details.
3.4. We may from time to time, without prior notice and without refund, liability, or compensation, close the Gallery or any part of it temporarily or restrict the number of persons having access if the circumstances require us to do so. For example, in the interests of security or public safety.
3.5. We reserve the right to deny admission, or to require a person already admitted, to leave the Gallery, without refund, liability, or compensation if the circumstances require us to do so.
4. Gallery staff
4.1. Our staff can be identified by their Gallery identity passes.
4.2. You must follow staff instructions in accordance with this policy. Our staff are here to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable, and inspiring visit.
4.3. Our staff are authorised to intervene where deemed necessary, for example in the event of antisocial behaviour, disturbance to other visitors, or any behaviour that puts the collection, building, or anyone else at risk. In such events, you may be asked to leave or be escorted from the Gallery.
4.4. Please respect all members of our staff. We do not tolerate physical or verbal abuse towards any member of our staff.
5. Health and Safety
5.1. In the interest of health and safety, please do not:
- commit any act that could endanger or jeopardise the safety of our staff, visitors, collection, or any property or goods;
- use laser pointers/pens, umbrellas, pointing sticks or poles of any type, to point at staff or other visitors;
- leave children in your care unattended;
- run within the Gallery;
- sit on staircases (please use the seating provided; our staff can assist you in finding the nearest seating);
- block any doorways, entrances, or exits; or
- smoke anywhere on the premises (including e-cigarettes).
5.2. Failure to comply with the above may result in you being asked to leave the Gallery.
5.3. Please let our staff know immediately about any accident, incident or ‘near miss’ in the Gallery
6. Protection of the collection
6.1. The collection requires careful conservation and environmental monitoring. You must not:
- cross barriers with any part of your body or possessions;
- touch paintings, frames, or art installations of any kind;
- use laser pointers/pens, umbrellas, pointing sticks or poles of any type, to point at paintings or objects;
- use torches (including mobile phone), flash, or magnifying glasses; or
- access any cordoned off or ‘staff only’ areas.
6.2. No artworks can be moved or brought into the Gallery by anyone other than the duly authorised personnel.
6.3. In case of theft, attempted theft, or vandalism, we may need to close the Gallery’s entrances and exits.
7. Food and drink
7.1. Please do not consume food or drink inside the picture galleries, and please eat and drink only in our designated catering spaces: The Espresso Bar; Muriel’s Kitchen; and Ochre restaurant.
7.2. Please note our designated catering spaces are reserved for visitors purchasing food and drink on site.
8. Fire alarms
8.1. If the fire system is activated, you must follow the instructions of the fire system voice announcements and of our staff.
8.2. In the event of a fire evacuation, all visitor facilities (including toilets, catering outlets, shops, and cloakrooms) must be vacated immediately.
8.3. You must not obstruct any exits.
9. Sketching and drawing
9.1. Visitors are welcome to sketch and draw in the Gallery and take inspiration from the collection with the following guidance:
- please be conscious of other people and move aside if someone wants to view the painting you are sketching;
- sketchbooks or notepaper should be no larger than A3 size; and
- use only graphite pencils and coloured pencils.
9.2. You may be asked to move along to another painting or room if the Gallery is particularly busy.
9.3. No sketching is permitted in doorways or access routes.
9.4. Painting and use of materials other than pencils is only permitted under the Copyist Scheme.
10. Photography and filming
10.1. We allow photography and filming for your own personal and non-commercial purposes. It is the responsibility of anyone taking photographs or filming to ensure that no copyright is infringed. The following exceptions apply to protect the collection, copyright of loans, individual privacy, and the overall visitor experience:
- photography/filming is not permitted in exhibitions, unless otherwise stated;
- photography or streaming of tours inside the Gallery is not permitted (please see section 11 below for information on tour groups);
- the use of additional lighting or flash, tripods, and selfie sticks is not permitted;
- photography of some loan paintings may be restricted, as indicated by signs next to the paintings; and
- photography and filming of children and young people is prohibited without the consent of the accompanying adult, this includes school groups and those attending family events. The Gallery recognises its responsibility to safeguard the welfare of all children, young people, and adults at risk;
10.2. You must respect the wishes of all visitors by not obstructing the view of the paintings or taking pictures of anyone (including our staff) without their permission.
10.3. Commercial filming and photography are not allowed in the Gallery without prior written permission. To arrange a location shoot, please contact the Commercial Events team by emailing: email@example.com or telephoning: 020 7747 5931.
11. Tour groups
11.1. We welcome a variety of group visitors to the Gallery to enjoy and learn about the collection:
- For school visits, please visit: Learning or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Details of our daily guided Gallery tours can be found here.
- For private guided group enquiries, please visit: Travel Trade or email: TravelTrade@nationalgallery.org.uk.
- For self-guided tour groups, please visit here.
11.2. Amplification devices are not permitted inside the gallery, and noise levels should be kept to a minimum to ensure groups are not distracting other visitors.
11.3. National Gallery Educators conducting tours always have priority over other groups.
11.4. Self-guided tour groups must be clear that their tour is not an official product of the Gallery and is in no way affiliated.
11.5. Groups must not block the paintings, doors, or access routes for prolonged periods. Please ensure that other visitors are able to enjoy the collection. You may be asked to move along to another painting or room if the Gallery is particularly busy.
12. Access facilities and on-site accessible parking
12.1. The Gallery aims to make access to the collection as inclusive and welcoming as possible. There are a range of facilities to help you enjoy the collection, visit exhibitions, and events. Please visit our Access page for full details of our facilities.
12.2. There is one designated accessible parking space on Orange Street, next to the Gallery. Please note this parking space is about 250 metres from the Getty Entrance. The space must be booked 48 hours in advance by telephoning: 020 7747 2885.
12.3. There are three designated blue badge parking bays on St Martin's Street. For more information, please contact the Westminster Parking Information Service on: 020 7823 4567.
13. Mobility scooters, wheelchairs, buggies, bicycles, skateboards and scooters
13.1. Mobility scooters, wheelchairs and electric wheelchairs are welcome. For more information regarding the size of our lifts, please contact us.
13.2. Baby buggies and oversized bags containing necessary medical equipment, or equipment for use in nursing and baby care, are allowed subject to you agreeing that these items may need to be inspected on entering the building.
13.3. Bicycles (including folded bicycles), skateboards, adult scooters, e-bikes and e-scooters are not permitted in the Gallery or cloakrooms.
14.1. Assistance dogs are welcome. Owners may be asked to present their Assistance Dogs UK (ADUK) identification book upon entry.
14.2. Other assistance animals are permitted, subject to reasonable prior notice with the Gallery.
14.3. Otherwise, animals are not permitted in the Gallery.
15.1. The cloakrooms are for visitors to store personal items.
15.2. The maximum bag size allowed in the building is 56x25x45cm and must be checked into the cloakrooms on arrival.
15.3. Wheeled luggage, including cabin bags, and suitcases are not allowed.
15.4. Large umbrellas are not allowed in the picture galleries but can be checked into the cloakroom on arrival.
15.5. Backpacks should be carried/worn on the front or held at the side.
15.6. Backpacks and large bags are not permitted in paid exhibitions but can be checked into the cloakroom on arrival.
15.7. Our staff may examine any item before accepting it in the cloakrooms and reserve the right to refuse to accept items.
15.8. All items left in the Gallery’s cloakrooms may be searched in the interests of safety and security.
15.9. Please remember to collect personal items from the cloakroom on the same day before closing time.
15.10. Neither the Gallery nor our employees accept any liability for the loss of, theft, or damage to anything left in the cloakrooms.
16. Lost property
16.1. Please do not leave personal property unattended when visiting the Gallery.
16.2. Any unattended property is handed to the Security team and is processed in accordance with our lost property procedure. Anything unclaimed after one month will be donated to charity or disposed of.
16.3. Unattended luggage or closed packages which appear to present a security danger may be destroyed without warning in the interests of safety and security.
16.4. We do not accept liability for any lost items and/or unattended property that we remove or destroy.
17. The Gallery as Licensed Premises
17.1. The Gallery holds a premises license under the Licensing Act 2003, in accordance with which we will:
- refuse any person entry (or ask any person to leave) if our security officers believe that person to be intoxicated or behaving antisocially; and
- refuse to serve alcohol or to supply other services to any person who is intoxicated or behaving antisocially.
17.2. At the end of evening events, we ask that you leave quietly and show consideration to our neighbours.
17.3. All alcohol consumed must be purchased on the premises.
18. Visitor comments and feedback
18.1. We welcome comments, feedback, and queries (including Access information). Please contact us via email: email@example.com; telephone: 020 7747 2885; or write to us: The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DN.
18.2. The information team will provide a response to all feedback in the first instance. Where feedback needs further attention, it is shared with the relevant head of department.
18.3. In accordance with our General Privacy Notice, we are committed to protecting the privacy and security of your personal information and will only use this legally and responsibly.
19.2. We reserve the right to amend or update this visitor policy without notice.