Join the National Gallery’s 200th Birthday Bash with Jools Holland and Friends, Spectacular Light Shows, and a Weekend Packed with Exciting Activities

Free tickets available for Members from today and to everyone in one week

Lisbeth Thalberg

The National Gallery has today (Thursday 11 April) announced plans to celebrate with a Big Birthday Weekend, a free birthday party like no other as the National Gallery turns 200 years old on Friday 10 May.

On 10 May, building on the Gallery’s exciting Friday Lates programmes of workshops, music performances, and new ways of seeing the collection, Jools Holland will perform in the Rausing Room as part of a curated programme with musical friends Ruby Turner MBE, Louise Marshall, and Sumudu. Across the rest of the Gallery there will be DJ sets, music from London Contemporary Voices, soundscapes by Anna Phoebe and poetry from Ben Okri.

The Future Room will celebrate musical collaborations past and present, with Hinako Omori, Charisse C, and Madam X curated by Sofia Ilyas from Beatport and a special Resonate: Sounds in the Gallery, a unique collaboration with Roony ‘RiskyRoadz’ Keefe; Sounds by Southeast; classical performances from London Obbligato Collective; and a breakout space on the ground floor for a mindful pause with paintings.

There will also be creative workshops offering sculptural postcard making and Renaissance Selfies with London Drawing. Friday Lates at the Gallery have been extremely successful in attracting audiences that are younger and more ethnically diverse, on average, to those who visit the Gallery at other times.

Outside on Trafalgar Square, a light show featuring projections of paintings from the Gallery and the story of our history will illuminate the building’s façade, programmed in partnership with NVisible.

With the aim of bringing the inside out, paintings that feature in the show are among those included in the upcoming cinema documentary My National Gallery, London. Playing alongside will be audio of contributors to the documentary – members of our staff, visitors and celebrities, discussing their favourite painting and what the picture, and the Gallery , means to them.

Over the course of the weekend, the Gallery will put the spotlight on family visitors, with the making of a creative ‘birthday cake’ at the centre. Created by artist Lucie MacGregor, visitors can add to the cake with their own paper creations piece by piece.

Free tickets are available for Members to book from today. Email subscribers can book free tickets from 15 April, and the  public will be able to book free tickets from 18 April. All ticket holders will be entered into a ballot to hear a special performance during the evening from Jools Holland.

Art lovers who want to celebrate but are not based in London can also take the Big Birthday Weekend as their first opportunity to visit National Treasures. Twelve of the Gallery’s most beloved paintings will be on loan to museums and galleries all over the UK, opening on Friday 10 May, meaning that half of the UK? population will be within an hour’s travel of a National Gallery masterpiece.

Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, says, ‘We are delighted to invite people to celebrate this momentous birthday with us, bringing together art and music. We hope the wide range of free activities across the birthday weekend  provide something for everyone – our community in London, people who know and love the Gallery, and people who haven’t yet discovered it.

Karen Eslea, Head of Learning and National Programmes, says, ‘Friday Lates welcome people of all ages to the National Gallery. They offer new ways of looking at and engaging with the collection, bringing people and paintings together. On Saturday and Sunday I’m delighted that families can be involved in our 200th birthday too, inspiring a love of art in new generations that will be our audiences for the decades to come.’

Jools Holland says, ‘I’ve been coming to the National Gallery since I was a small child mesmerised by its contents. Therefore, it is now a great honour to be invited by them to help celebrate their 200th birthday. The wonderful range of pictures in the Gallery has not only enchanted me but has also educated me. It’s the easiest way to time travel, and luckily with the National Gallery, it’s free, and here in the heart of London. I’m delighted to help them with this Bicentenary.

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Journalist and artist (photographer). Editor of the art section at MCM. Contact: art (@) martincid (.) com
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