In a couple of years time, the National Gallery will mark its 200th birthday, and they’ve outlined some of the plans it has to mark its bicentenary.
As the custodians of a national collection, they plan a national exhibition, with 12 simultaneous exhibitions opening on the same day – 10th May 2024 – at 12 museums and galleries across the 12 regions of the four nations of the UK, and each centred around an important artwork from the National Gallery
The aim is that at least half the UK population will be less than an hour’s journey from a National Gallery masterpiece.
To reach further, they aim to have art workshops touring the UK throughout the year, bringing National Gallery workshops and learning activities to 200 different communities who otherwise would not have ready access to them.
Here in London, there will be some sort of festival taking place in Trafalgar Square, details to be announced closer to the date.
But the highlight of the NG200 bicentenary celebrations will be the first major Van Gogh show in the UK since 2010 with a mix of publicly owned paintings alongside paintings from private collections never seen in public before. The Van Gogh exhibition will come exactly 100 years after the Gallery acquired Van Gogh’s Chair and Sunflowers (both painted in 1888). They’re also planning a special event based around Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, which the gallery is keeping under wraps for the moment.
The year of events will culminate in a new entrance for the gallery to cope with numbers that are double what the gallery was designed to cope with. They will also be redisplaying the National Gallery collection, so if you want to see it as it is at the moment, you’ll need to visit this year.
Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, said that the “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.”
Although the gallery marks its 200th anniversary on 10th May 2024, it originally opened in a smaller building on Pall Mall and moved into its current building in 1838. So expect a second bicentenary to mark the opening of the current home of the gallery.