The National Gallery exists so that people can engage with great art
It is a public museum with a uniquely important collection of pictures for the benefit of all. It tells a coherent story of European painting spanning seven centuries and reflects how artists and the societies in which they lived have responded to myth and religion, history and contemporary events, landscape and the human form, and to the tradition of art itself.
The National Gallery constitutes a living legacy of humanity’s highest cultural achievements in painting and is an inestimable resource for understanding the world as we have inherited it.
We who currently have responsibility for the Gallery want to share this resource, and our enthusiasm for it, with the widest possible audience.
Established in 1824, the National Gallery is a national responsibility ultimately underwritten by Parliament. A quarter of a century ago the Gallery’s statutory responsibilities were set out: to care for and add to the collection, to display it for the public, to advance scholarship and research, and to promote enjoyment and understanding.
Millions of people now visit the National Gallery every year and we reach many more online. We are committed to the idea of the National Gallery as a place of learning and enjoyment and we aim to realize the Gallery’s potential as a source of inspiration for this and future generations.
From its inception the National Gallery has been free for all to visit. We believe that free admission represents a commitment to the public which must be reaffirmed and developed, a commitment to visitors of all ages, from Britain and abroad, and from all walks of life.
The National Gallery has an important role to play in enabling people to understand and negotiate the changes that society is undergoing by providing long-term historical perspective, mediated access to works of art of great significance and beauty, and a safe environment for reflection on questions of identity, beliefs, and on the relationship between the past and the present.