Founded in 1824, The National Gallery in London’s Trafalgar Square is one of the world’s most visited art museums and home to over 2,600 paintings dating from the mid-13th-century to 1900. Although its collection is smaller than many European national galleries, it is encyclopedic in scope; most major developments in Western painting, from Medieval Art to Post-Impressionism, are represented. As of this publication, the Gallery is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, but it remains open online for art lovers to peruse its extensive collection and amazing content. Here are five reasons to visit the website:
1. The Astounding Collection of Art
The National Gallery is home to some of the most famous and well-loved paintings by European artists. Some notable works include Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Botticelli’s The Mystic Nativity, Rembrandt’s Self Portrait at the Age of 34, Henri Rousseau’s Tiger In A Tropical Storm, and Da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks. Other artists whose works can be found here are Giotto, Raphael, Titian, Michelangelo, El Greco, Caravaggio, Rubens, Vermeer, Goya, Degas, Cezanne, Monet, Renoir, and Seurat, to name a few.
2. The In-Depth Analyses of the Paintings
Each painting in The National Gallery’s remarkable collection has a dedicated page with key facts (date made, medium, dimensions) and an in-depth description. In the website’s Highlights From The Collection, the gallery’s most popular masterpieces are explored in detail; many of the paintings in this section have an Insights video which takes a deeper look at its significance. And in Picture of the Month, one painting from the collection is highlighted and studied comprehensively.
3. The Exciting Online Events
Art enthusiasts and students can learn more about the paintings in the Gallery’s collection as well as other topics in the various talks, courses, and creative sessions which are hosted by scholars and experts in the field. Upcoming events include Stories of Art: Module 3 1500-1600, Meditations On Art and Nature, The Life and Work of Berthe Morisot, among others. Some events are open only to Members (you can buy a Membership to the Gallery from their site), while others are free to the public.
4. The Amazing Virtual Tours
The National Gallery allows visitors to explore their impressive collection from the comfort of their home. Using a desktop, phone, or VR headset, visitors can experience the Gallery in virtual reality. There are currently two virtual tours online: The Google Virtual Tour and The Virtual Reality Tour of The Sainsbury Wing. The Google Virtual Tour allows visitors to enjoy panoramic views of the Gallery in 360 degrees; this is where Renaissance masterpieces from Northern Italy, The Netherlands, and Germany are currently housed. In The Virtual Reality Tour of The Sainsbury Wing, visitors can enjoy over 270 Early Renaissance paintings in virtual reality with a VR headset.
5. The Fascinating Video Essays and Tutorials
There are scores of videos dealing with various topics that can be viewed for free on the website. In A Curated Look, the Gallery’s different curators discuss a subject that is the focus of certain paintings. Some of the subjects tackled are Angels, wherein curator Joost Jousta decodes paintings of angels, and Working From Home, a video that peeks into paintings of people at home. For the arts-and-crafts types, there is Make And Create, a series of online art tutorials that anyone can easily follow at home. A wonderful way to de-stress is through the 5-Minute Meditations series of videos wherein visitors can let go of worries with a mindful look at one painting. Scroll to the bottom of the website’s Latest Stories section (see image below) to see the other video offerings.