The long gallery inside Buckingham Palace has been emptied of its treasures for the first time since the 1970s, so that most of them can on public display.

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020

The gallery inside Buckingham Palace is being cleared for renovation works as part of Buckingham Palace’s ongoing Reservicing Programme. Miles of ageing cables, lead pipes, electrical wiring and boilers are being replaced as part of the Programme, many for the first time since the Second World War. As part of the works, updates will also be made to the building to improve visitor accessibility and energy efficiency.

Old Master paintings have hung in the room since it was first created for George IV in the 1820s. The paintings are widely acknowledged to be among the highlights of the Royal Collection and include spectacular works by Titian, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Dyck and Canaletto.

While the display of paintings is occasionally refreshed, the Picture Gallery has not been entirely emptied of its contents since it was last redecorated in 1976.

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2020

While the paintings are away from the Palace, 65 of them will go on display in the next-door Queen’s Gallery from next week for a year.

During Queen Victoria’s reign, the Picture Gallery was opened to the public for the first time, when the royal family was not in residence, and a catalogue of the paintings was sold. In 1851, under the supervision of Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert, the room was redecorated and rehung, and the paintings were uniformly reframed. Today the Picture Gallery can usually be enjoyed as part of the annual Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace.

The Queen’s Gallery is larger than the space inside Buckingham Palace, so there will be more space to reflect on the paintings, and during the winter months when the Palace is not open to the public.

The exhibition, Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace opens next Friday and tickets need to be booked in advance here.


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