‘We are your gallery and these are your paintings.’

So announces the voiceover on a new video released as part of the launch of NG200, a year-long celebration to mark the bicentenary of The National Gallery and all the treasures it holds within its hallowed walls. The message is simple: two centuries on from its foundation, its mission remains that art is for everyone – and to underline that point, there will be twelve simultaneous exhibitions opening all around the nation this week on 10 May, each one centred around an iconic work on loan from the gallery.

The paintings include Constable’s The Hay Wain, Turner’s Fighting Temeraire and Monet’s The Water-Lily Pond, each of which masterpiece will travel to a regional centre such as Bristol, Newcastle and York. For some of the works – such as The Wilton Diptych and Botticelli’s Venus and Mars – these away exhibitions represent the first time that they will have left the gallery since they were acquired. Everyone everywhere, then, will have the opportunity to get up close to an artwork that has, in one way or another, shaped the history of art.


And that’s not all. In addition to these icons heading out of their Trafalgar Square home, the National Gallery will also be going on an art road trip that will see some 200 National Gallery workshops, community-led art activities and learning activities to different communities, many of that have historically had little or no access to such facilities or resources.


There will also be a host of other delights that come as part and parcel of the festivities. A new online film series will takes viewers behind the scenes of The National Gallery; an exhibition available digitally will chart the history of painting in 200 artworks – one for each year of the gallery’s existence; a summer festival is set to take place on Trafalgar Square; the gallery will host the first major Van Gogh exhibition since 2010 (also coinciding with the century anniversary since the NG acquired the world-famous Sunflowers and Van Gogh’s Chair); and there will be an exhibition dedicated to the early, exquisite art of Siena, much of which paved the way for the Renaissance – and thus the unfolding story of art.


Rich, varied and ripe for the discovery, we have always adored The National Gallery both for its exceptional collection and the fact that it is free to all. Now, at 200, it is making its work even more accessible in order to shout the message even louder that art is here to inspire, and that it can open a door to both history and creativity for everyone. Hip hip hooray – and here’s to the next two hundred!

Images Credits: © National Gallery, London;

The Annunciation
Egg tempera on wood
44.5 × 45.8 cm

National Treasures © The National Gallery, London

Joseph Wright 'of Derby', An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, 1768 © The National Gallery, London

Georges Seurat, Bathers at Asnières, 1884 © The National Gallery, London