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Newly-Reopened National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery reopened at the of June and I finally made it over there to see what they have done and changed since closing in March 2020 for their (planned prior to, but perfectly timed with, COVID) renovations. The overall layout of the galleries and the position of the long escalator to bring you up to the top floor to start your tour have not changed at all. Nor has the general content and arrangement of the galleries into historic and contemporary themes. The most noticeable change is a far more imposing and representative entrance and a larger lobby area, which gives an airier feel as well as easier access to the shop and ticketing areas. How the Gallery appears as seen from the street, its street presence, so to say, is very much improved so that the outside now carries as much weight as the treasures that are contained inside it. Definitely a major improvement!

The Gallery was horribly crowded on a rainy Saturday and even though their website encourages booking timed tickets, these were not checked and clearly there were more people who just walked in without any. The large numbers of people made it difficult, if not impossible, to properly view the works, and some galleries were so jammed with visitors, that we didn't even venture in them. Of course, this may still be due to the initial excitement of the reopening. The National Portrait is certainly worth a visit, but perhaps at a less busy time.

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