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First new gallery in 26 years opens

Issued February 2017

The National Gallery is delighted to announce that on 22 March 2017 it will open Gallery B to the public. This will be the first new gallery space created at the National Gallery in 26 years.

Rubens and Rembrandt display in New Gallery B © National Gallery, London

Rubens and Rembrandt display in New Gallery B © National Gallery, London

Gallery B – which was designed by architects Purcell – adds an additional 200 square metres of display space to the main Wilkins Building and opens up the ground floor. This creates a direct public route from the Portico Entrance on Trafalgar Square through to the Pigott Education Centre Entrance on Orange Street (at the rear of the Gallery).

For the first time, visitors can now explore all of the Ground Floor Galleries and progress up to the Main Floor whilst enjoying a continuous viewing experience.

It is intended that these now interconnected galleries will host a wide range of education programme activities along with special displays and exhibitions. The launch of Gallery B also marks the daily opening of Gallery A, previously open every Wednesday afternoon and one Sunday per month.

Gallery B opens with 'Rubens and Rembrandt', a special display of paintings by the Flemish artist Rubens hung opposite works by his Dutch counterpart, Rembrandt, creating a dynamic visual dialogue between these two great 17th-century masters. The innovative hang demonstrates the potential of this new gallery space for exceptional displays that offer different ways of exploring the National Gallery Collection.

Though the two masters probably never met in person, their works meet face-to-face in this inaugural hang of Gallery B, which includes nine works by Rubens and 11 paintings by Rembrandt from the National Gallery’s extensive collection of Dutch and Flemish art. Both Rubens and Rembrandt were prolific artists, who produced works of great sensitivity and emotional charge. Indeed, it has been argued that Rembrandt was influenced by Rubens’s remarkable artistry and personal charisma in forming his own identity within the grand lineage of master painters. An avid collector; it is recorded that Rembrandt later owned a painting by Rubens. This new installation testifies to the breadth of these two artists’ careers, whose bodies of work encompass history paintings, landscapes, portraiture and more.

Additionally, dynamic drawings by contemporary painter Frank Auerbach, inspired by the works of Rembrandt and Rubens, will be on view in the Gallery B Lobby and Espresso Bar.

Curator of Dutch and Flemish Paintings, Betsy Wieseman, said:

“The arrangement of paintings in the main floor galleries is for the most part divided by national schools. The new gallery space presents an exciting opportunity to display together paintings by two great masters from neighbouring countries with diverging artistic traditions. This Gallery B display will enable the visitor to make their own comparisons, and as a result to view the achievements of these two artists  – whose work is so well represented in the National Gallery – in an entirely new way.”

Director of the National Gallery, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, said:

“Gallery B is the first new gallery to open since the Sainsbury Wing was inaugurated in 1991. It provides the setting for an original display of works by two of the National Gallery’s titans, Rubens and Rembrandt.”

This new gallery space has been created with the support of the Wolfson Foundation.


The Wolfson Foundation

The Wolfson Foundation is an independent charity that supports and promotes excellence in the fields of science, health, education and the arts and humanities. Over £800 million (£1.7 billion in real terms) has been awarded to more than 10,000 projects throughout the UK, all on the basis of expert review. Established in 1955, the Wolfson Foundation celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2015. 

Rubens and Rembrandt

Opens 22 March 2017
Gallery B 
Admission free

For further information, please contact the National Gallery Press Office on 020 7747 2865 or email

For public enquiries, please contact 020 7747 2885 or