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The National Gallery

Home > London > Art | Exhibitions | Free | Galleries | Rainy Day
by Karen Grikitis (subscribe)
I am a former journalist and editor, currently writing fiction for adults and children. Visit my website at
Published September 13th 2012
See for free some of the world's most famous paintings
Big brother to the National Portrait Gallery just round the corner, the National Gallery boasts among its collection some of the world's most iconic paintings, including Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers',
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The National Gallery
Constable's 'The Hay Wain' and Turner's 'The Fighting Temeraire'. So, even if you're not an art buff, there's plenty to see, and best of all, it's completely free!

The gallery's entire collection of 2,000 Western European paintings is located on Level 2 of the main building, entered via the Trafalgar Square entrance, and the adjacent Sainsbury's wing, which has its own separate entrance. The paintings are grouped together in century order, starting with those painted between
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The National Cafe
1250 and 1500, up to 20th century artworks. An easy to follow floor plan is available to guide you through the works of art on display, from such masters as Botticelli in the 15th century, to Titian and Michelangelo in the 16th, Vermeer and Carvaggio in the 17th century and Monet in the 19th century.

If you have half or a whole day to spend in the National Gallery, pace yourself, and take time out in one of the gallery's eateries or shops. On Level 0 you will find The Espresso Bar where you can have a play with the gallery's ArtStart touchscreens and find out more about your favourite painting over a cup of coffee. For
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Lunchtime talk in the Theatre at The National Gallery
something more substantial, try the National Café, also on Level 0 or the National Dining Rooms on Level 1 of the Sainsbury Wing, where a bowl of soup will cost you about £6.50. There are shops on Levels 0 and 2 selling the usual array of gallery souvenirs and art books.

If you don't have much time at all, you can take a 60-minute guided tour at 11.30am and 2.30pm every day, which is also free, or take a self-guided mini themed tour. There are also regular, one-hour lunchtime and evening talks on a variety of topics relating to the art world, and
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The Espresso Bar at The National Gallery
10-minute talks on individual paintings at 4pm, Monday to Friday. Visiting after work is also possible on a Friday, when the National Gallery stays open from 6pm to 9pm.

As well as housing some of the world's most famous paintings, the National Gallery holds courses, workshops and Family Sundays, in addition to hosting lunchtime and evening musical concerts. There are also a few major exhibitions every year, for which there is an entrance fee.

It is very easy to find the National Gallery. Head for Trafalgar Square from Leicester Square (northern and Piccadilly lines) or Charing Cross (northern and bakerloo lines) underground stations, and the gallery is the huge building with columns facing the north side of the square.
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Why? Fantastic collection of art masterpieces
When: Open daily 10am – 6pm, Friday 10am – 9pm
Phone: 020 7747 2885
Where: Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DN
Cost: Free
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