National Gallery Launches Ambitious Bicentenary Plans With Lightshow

National Gallery centenary

The National Gallery has illuminated its central London elevation with a dazzling light show, marking a momentous occasion in its history—the bicentenary of its founding. 

This vibrant display was a fitting tribute to two centuries of artistic excellence and cultural significance. As the institution embarks on a year-long celebration, visitors can expect many events commemorating its rich heritage and promising future. From captivating art installations spanning the UK to innovative collaborations with social media influencers, the National Gallery is pulling out all the stops to engage audiences far and wide. And for families eager to immerse themselves in creativity, a free festival of art awaits in the iconic setting of Trafalgar Square, promising an unforgettable summer experience.

For twelve months (starting from May 10, 2024), the National Gallery will embark on a journey celebrating its illustrious past while looking ahead to a promising future. The festivities will encompass diverse events and exhibitions within the gallery’s walls and beyond, extending to Trafalgar Square across the UK and reaching global audiences through innovative online experiences.

Under the theme “Your pictures, your stories,” the National Gallery aims to make art more accessible than ever, inviting everyone to engage with some of the world’s greatest paintings. Whether it’s experiencing masterpieces in local museums, participating in virtual tours, or delving into the digital history of the gallery’s collection, there will be ample opportunities for people to connect with art in new and meaningful ways.

As part of its commitment to the future, the National Gallery will conclude its bicentenary celebrations with a grand finale – unveiling a new entrance to the Sainsbury Wing and a comprehensive redisplay of the collection. These enhancements, designed to offer a more inspiring and sustainable visitor experience, underscore the institution’s dedication to shaping its third century.

The bicentenary celebrations will extend far beyond the gallery’s London headquarters. A series of exciting initiatives are planned across the UK and worldwide.

Highlights include:

NG200: National Treasures: Twelve simultaneous exhibitions, each centred around a National Treasure, will open on May 10, 2024, in museums and galleries across the UK, ensuring that more than half the population will be within easy reach of a National Gallery masterpiece.

NG200: Art Road Trip: Two Travelling Art Studios will traverse the UK, bringing National Gallery workshops and learning activities to 200 communities.

NG200: Jeremy Deller’s Triumph of Art: A national public art commission celebrating 200 years of the National Gallery, showcasing the transformative power of art in culture and civic life.

Internationally, the National Gallery will collaborate with 200 social media creators across the UK, launch a new online film series offering behind-the-scenes insights, and create a virtual gallery experience accessible to all.

The gallery will host diverse exhibitions in London, including a spectacular showcase of Van Gogh’s most iconic works and the first-ever full-scale exhibition of early Sienese art outside Italy.

The bicentenary celebrations will cost £95 million, but the National Gallery has already secured £50 million in commitments from leading supporters and trusts. With plans to engage audiences far and wide, nationally and globally, the NG200 project aims to redefine the role of cultural institutions in public life and celebrate the transformative power of art for generations to come.

In response to the announcement, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries praised the National Gallery’s commitment to sharing its treasures with communities across the UK, describing it as a vital contribution to Britain’s artistic heritage.

As the countdown to its bicentenary begins, the National Gallery stands poised to embark on its most ambitious undertaking yet – a celebration of art, creativity, and community that promises to leave a lasting impact on audiences worldwide.

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