National Gallery announces Bicentenary plans
NG200 – Bringing people and paintings together
Issued June 2022
On 10 May 2024 the National Gallery will be 200 years old, and we will start our Bicentenary celebration, marking two centuries of bringing people and paintings together.
For 12 months from 10 May 2024, we will celebrate our past and look forward to our future with a year-long festival of art, creativity and imagination which sets the tone for our third century.
We invite everyone to join the celebration as part of an ambitious programme of events and exhibitions that extends from the Gallery into Trafalgar Square, across the nation, and to the world through a series of online and virtual experiences. ‘Your pictures, your stories.’
We will make it easier than ever for everyone to share a space with some of the greatest paintings in the world. From seeing a real work in the context of your local museum or gallery to enjoying a dive into the virtual history of the nation’s collection, everyone can find new ways to connect with art.
As a commitment to our next 200 years, we close the celebrations with the latest addition to our building in Trafalgar Square and a redisplay of the collection – a new entrance to the Sainsbury Wing and a welcome fit for the 21st century.
These are just some of the things we are planning…
The Gallery across the nation
NG200: National Treasures
12 simultaneous exhibitions opening on the same day – 10 May 2024 - at 12 museums and galleries across the 12 regions of the four nations of the UK, and each centred around a National Treasure. More than half the UK population will be within an hour’s journey of a National Gallery masterpiece.
NG200: Art Road Trip
Two Travelling Art Studios will tour the UK through the year, bringing National Gallery workshops and learning activities to 200 different communities who otherwise would not have ready access to them.
NG200: Jeremy Deller’s Triumph of Art
A national public art commission, celebrating 200 years of the National Gallery – showing how festivals are a part of art, culture and civic-life, and how art and artists can be catalysts of collaboration and joy.
The Gallery across the world
NG200: 200 Creators
We will collaborate with 200 social media creators from across the UK, celebrating 200 years of the Gallery being a beacon of creativity.
NG200: Behind the Scenes
A new online film series that takes viewers behind the scenes of the National Gallery creating a continuous micro documentary that engages people with key aspects of the NG200 programme.
NG200: 200 Paintings for 200 Years
We open the door to the entire history of a painting, in one place, sharing the wealth of the National Gallery’s research, digitally available for everyone, everywhere, anytime.
NG200: The Virtual Gallery
We will create a new, large-scale digital Gallery experience for the Bicentenary, available via our website
The Gallery in London
NG200: Summer on the Square
A festival in Trafalgar Square, programmed with and for children, young people and their families to engage new and diverse audiences. Designed to unlock the nation's creativity and bring the collection to the streets of Westminster.
NG200: Van Gogh
An exhibition featuring a stunning array of the artist’s most important and well-loved works alongside paintings from private collections never seen in public before. The first major Van Gogh show in the UK since 2010, it promises to be the most spectacular EVER, and comes exactly 100 years after the Gallery acquired Van Gogh’s Chair and Sunflowers (both painted in 1888).
NG200: 14th century Siena
The first ever full-scale exhibition of early Sienese art outside Italy. An opportunity to see some of Europe’s earliest and most exquisite paintings ever produced. Be there for the beginning of art history…
NG200: National Gallery Stories
The story of the National Gallery and the people who have played a part in its 200-year history, delivered through a series of digital experiences that will create new personal connections with the collection.
A suite of capital projects designed by a team led by Selldorf Architects that will benefit all those who visit the Gallery. Sensitive interventions to our building will reshape the National Gallery for its third century and the next generation of visitors. A transformation of the Sainsbury Wing entrance, the public realm and visitor amenities along with a new Members’ House and a new Research Centre, will provide a more inspiring and sustainable experience for our millions of visitors every year. We are also planning to transform our Learning Centre, allowing us to be far more ambitious with our educational offer and become the nation’s art classroom.
NG200: The Main Event
A dramatic redisplay of the entire National Gallery collection. This will be visitor-focussed with a new emphasis on thematic displays, pairings and surprising ‘artistic conversations’ within a broadly chronological framework.
NG200: Sunflowers Surprise
We’re making some very exciting plans for one of our most popular and well-loved paintings - Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (1888) - as part of our national anniversary celebrations. More to come soon….
The total cost of the NG200 Programme is £95 million, and the Gallery is delighted to announce it already has confirmed commitments of £50 million.
These commitments have come from several leading supporters, trusts associated with the National Gallery and from its own reserves. Supporters include two of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts (The Linbury Trust and The Headley Trust), John Booth Charitable Foundation, the Deborah Loeb Brice Foundation, Stuart and Bianca Roden, and an anonymous donor.
We are also in conversations with several other supporters who are keen to help the Gallery – and to ensure our 200-year anniversary is made accessible to the whole nation – and we are looking forward to speaking to more soon.
We are also very grateful to Julia and Hans Rausing who have given the Gallery £2.652m to cover all the costs associated with the cleaning and conservation work of the Gallery’s façades in preparation for the National Gallery’s 2024 Bicentenary.
Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, says 'National Gallery is the nation’s gallery, and we are committed to the belief in the transformative nature of art and it being a vital resource for learning, enjoyment and wellbeing. While our physical presence is in London, our audiences are drawn from all over the country – and all over the world.
The NG200 Project will celebrate the Gallery’s Bicentenary, combining inspirational and diverse country wide programming with plans for a suite of capital projects. This is an integral part of the National Gallery’s ambition to define and set new standards for the role a cultural institution can play in public life. We are delighted and grateful to have the support of the Sainsbury family on this project; their belief and vision gave us the Sainsbury Wing over 30 years ago and they share our commitment to the very best public access to our world-class collection.'
Our Bicentenary programming is all about reaching out right across the nation. A significant amount of the activities are in regional locations and are mostly free. We also want to reach out globally and promote the UK.
We are determined that NG200 will support post-pandemic recovery – economic and wellbeing – and help artists, freelancers, museums and galleries around the UK celebrate their own creative ambitions, as well as their local histories and heritage.
NG200 is an opportunity for us to not simply tell people that we are a national gallery – but evidence it, and then reimagine it, by going out to the nation with the most ambitious national programme we have ever undertaken.'
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: 'The National Gallery is one of the world's most important cultural institutions and central to Britain's artistic heritage.
'I'm delighted the museum, which is publicly funded, will mark this momentous occasion by sharing some of its finest works with communities across the UK so people can see the brilliant collection on their doorsteps.'
Notes to editors
The National Gallery is one of the greatest art galleries in the world. Founded by Parliament in 1824, the Gallery houses the nation’s collection of paintings in the Western European tradition from the late 13th to the early 20th century. The collection includes works by Artemisia Gentileschi, Bellini, Cézanne, Degas, Leonardo, Monet, Raphael, Rembrandt, Renoir, Rubens, Titian, Turner, Van Dyck, Van Gogh and Velázquez. The Gallery’s key objectives are to care for and enhance the collection and provide the best possible access to visitors. Admission free.
More information at nationalgallery.org.uk
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