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Talking painting tours for Key Stages 1–2

Bring National Gallery paintings to life with a themed tour delivered by a Gallery educator (free for UK schools)

Pupils will see a maximum of three paintings as part of their facilitated visit. These sessions are designed to build children's confidence and enjoyment in looking at and responding to paintings. Through careful questioning and structured activities, Gallery educators will help them improve their observational skills and discuss their findings. 

The paintings selected will give an overview of the time frame, genres and themes included in the collection. Pupils will also explore changes in style, content, and painting technique over time, developing the skills to start exploring on their own.

Days: Weekdays (term time only)

Duration: 60 minutes

Group size: 10-30

Cost for UK schools: Free

Cost for overseas groups: £75–100 per group

Please choose one of the following themes:

General introduction
Pupils will be introduced to the richness of the nation’s, and therefore their collection. They will practise their observational and visual literacy skills by focusing on three paintings from across the gallery.

The world around us – Water, Weather, Plants and animals, or Buildings (please choose one)
Pupils will be introduced to the ways in which artists have represented the natural world and the built environment. During investigations in the Gallery they will discover for themselves the artistic techniques that bring the painted world alive. Sessions may focus on depictions of Water, Weather, Plants and animals, or Buildings considering how artists have represented their chosen element and created a world the viewer can inhabit.

Please specify upon booking which you would like your session to focus upon.

Myths and legends
Pupils will explore the ways in which artists have told stories in paint; how they have plotted complex narratives, created atmosphere, introduced characters and swept the viewer along in the emotion of the story, all in a single canvas. They will be encouraged to work through the story as it is portrayed in the painting, using the visual clues the artist has included, and give their own opinions and interpretation. This session is therefore suitable both as an introduction to the topic, and for those groups who already have a working knowledge of myths and legends.

Still life, Landscape, or Portraiture (please choose one)
Pupils will be given an overview of their chosen genre, looking at how it has been approached by different artists working across the periods covered by the collection. Gallery educators will guide them through the key elements of composition in either still life, landscape or portraiture, encouraging comparisons of style and technique.
Please specify upon booking which area you would like your session to focus on.

Materials, techniques, and processes
Pupils will explore how a painting is made, both physically and compositionally. They will be introduced to the differing materials and processes artists have used over time. Through guided looking they will examine how artists have composed the painting, used colour, light and tone and how effects such as texture and perspective have been created.

Religion in art
Though the religious works in the collection are essentially Christian, pupils will be encouraged to think more generally about how artists have portrayed the sacred, imagine the spaces they were commissioned for and what they meant to people at the time. Through large-scale altarpieces and smaller works for private devotion, pupils will investigate how artist have used symbols, colour, and composition to represent stories and key beliefs.
Sessions may act as a general investigation or focus on particular festivals such as Christmas or Easter.

Take One Picture: The Battle of San Romano
The next Take One Picture focus painting is The Battle of San Romano by Paolo UccelloPupils will explore the painting along with two others chosen to complement their understanding and observational skills. This session will work either as an introduction to Take One Picture or to enhance and consolidate knowledge for those who have already worked on the project.

SEND groups
All of the above themes can be adapted for SEND groups. Please contact us for more information about how we can meet your group’s needs.

Group size: 10 maximum

To book 
Bookings can only be made via email. To request a booking form, please email at least six weeks (and up to one term) in advance.

What you need to know:

  • We require a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice of date and a time frame for your visit to be provided in the booking form
  • For each group of 1030 pupils, we require the lead teacher’s name, email address and mobile number
  • We cannot guarantee that your group will see a certain painting or artist, as all paintings and rooms are subject to availability
  • Book your Gallery session before you book transport

For further information, please phone 020 7747 2424 (select Option 1).

Students with additional and special needs: Please specify in the booking form if your students have additional needs.
Cancellation policy: 28 days prior to session.

Self-guided visits

You may prefer to design and lead your own Gallery session. To book a self-guided visit, please complete our online booking form.

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