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The Nation’s Gallery, open and ready when you are

National Gallery to reopen on 8 July

Issued June 2020

After an unprecedented 111 days with its doors closed, the National Gallery will start welcoming visitors again on Wednesday 8 July –  the first national museum in the UK to reopen after the coronavirus shutdown.

We have made the decision to reopen based on government guidelines as we want to reunite the nation with its collection. After making some changes to the Gallery that put your safety, and the safety of our staff, first – this is now possible.

In line with best practice learnt from colleagues in European and American museums which have opened ahead of us, all visits will be booked online and in advance. This is to help us manage the number of people in the Gallery, limit queueing and reduce contact.

Entrance will be via the Sainsbury Wing Entrance and exit through the Getty Entrance; there will be 2m social distancing measures in place throughout the Gallery. As part of our new safety measures, we have introduced three one-way art routes to guide you through different areas of the collection* - you will still see the paintings you know and love as you are taken through the Gallery, with opportunities to choose which art journey your visit will take.

You will be able to download our online map ahead of your visit or view it on your smart phone, and visitors can access extensive information on each painting through the Gallery website. When walking through the art routes you can also get extra information by downloading the Smartify app for free and use your phone to scan the paintings.

The universally acclaimed Titian: Love, Desire, Death exhibition, that had to close after just 3 days, will also reopen and has been extended until 17 January 2021. Nicolaes Maes: Dutch Master of the Golden Age has also been extended, until 20 September 2020.

Providing a safe and enjoyable experience is our priority; in order to achieve this an enhanced cleaning regime will be in operation. We have installed higher efficiency filters in the air-conditioning system throughout the Gallery and are increasing the flow of fresh air. Perspex protection panels will be in place at Ticket and Information desks, along with the shop and café counters too, and there will be plenty of hand sanitiser at regular intervals throughout the building.  For added reassurance that the National Gallery is a safe place to work and visit, we have provided personal protective equipment for our staff (including face masks, gloves and eye protection) and we are also recommending that all our visitors wear a face covering during their visit.   

Although we will still be open 7 days a week, there will be shorter opening hours to begin with (daily 11am-4pm, Friday 11am-9pm), and a reduced maximum capacity for visitors. The Getty Shop will be open, as will the National Café which will have a takeaway offer.

There are many exciting new things to see in the Gallery as it re-opens…

  • Room 32 - one of the Gallery’s largest and most visited rooms displaying 17th-century Italian paintings by artists including Caravaggio, Artemisia and Orazio Gentileschi, Guido Reni and Guercino – will reopen after a 21-month refurbishment project, as the Julia and Hans Rausing Room. Thanks to their support, the Gallery has re-instated the decorative design of its original architect, Edward M Barry, replaced the wooden floors and wall fabrics, and installed an air conditioning system.
  • A number of newly-acquired paintings – Liotard’s The Lavergne Family Breakfast (1754), Gainsborough’s Portrait of Margaret Gainsborough holding a Theorbo (about 1777) and our very first Sorolla (The Drunkard, Zaraúz, 1910).
  • The newly restored Equestrian Portrait of Charles I by Van Dyck (about 1637/8) will be back on show in Room 21 after more than two years. This monumental work (measuring 367 × 292.1 cm) has been off display since September 2017 undergoing conservation.
  • Some new and ambitious hangs in the Dutch and British collections, including the two works by Turner (Dido building Carthage (1815) and Sun rising through Vapour (before 1807)) that are always hung together with A Seaport (1644) and The Mill (1648) by Claude in accordance with Turner’s will, relocated from Room 15 to the dramatic setting of the Barry Rooms.

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, London says 'The prospect of reopening is hugely exciting. I believe there is also something symbolic in the Gallery’s reopening first among the national museums. We want to be a part of the nation’s recovery story and by opening the doors and letting the public back in to see our inspiring pictures, we want to make an important contribution to the process.

'When you visit, you’ll notice we’ve made a few changes. These help us put your safety, as well as the safety of our staff, first – but we are the same Gallery you know and love, just with added social distancing and one-way art routes. The National Gallery will soon be open again and we are ready to welcome you back.'

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, says 'I'm so delighted this national treasure will be one of the first to open its doors to once again share its priceless collections. As our museums and galleries open, I am sure the British public will support them and help our precious cultural institutions bounce back. The reopening of the world-renowned National Gallery on the 8th July can't come soon enough.'

For those people unable to see the nation’s paintings in person at this time, the National Gallery will continue to work hard to bring its pictures to their homes in the major digital programme it launched after the doors in Trafalgar Square temporarily shut. Through its digital initiatives the National Gallery will continue to be open 24/7 with free art for everyone, anywhere, online.


Admission and tickets

There are three ways to book a visit at

Art routes

*Visitors can choose to explore route A, as well as route B or route C. Both route B and C pass through the Impressionist galleries and end at the toilets, café, shop and exit.

  • Route A – See some of the earliest works in the collection including Botticelli, van Eyck, Leonardo, Memling, Michelangelo, Raphael, Piero and Uccello.
  • Route B – Travel from Venice to the English countryside and see artists including Bronzino, Canaletto, Gainsborough, Hogarth, Holbein, Monet, Seurat, Turner and Van Gogh.
  • Route C – Witness dramatic candlelit moments and contemplate serene interior scenes and see artist including Caravaggio, Rubens, Velázquez, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Monet, Seurat, Turner and Van Gogh.

 A few of our rooms will not be open, in particular the smaller cabinet rooms.


National Gallery Press Office on 020 7747 2865 or email

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