Despite one of the most difficult years for cultural institutions worldwide, the National Gallery
s digital drive has proven a success by bringing the collection and temporary exhibitions into peoples homes across six continents. As the pandemic continues to disrupt lives, the National Gallery will keep showcasing great art to the public - both domestically and internationally - throughout these difficult times.
Due to Covid-19 the National Gallery has postponed two exhibitions that will open as soon as possible depending on the latest UK government advice. The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Dürer's Journeys - Travels of a Renaissance Artist will be the first significant UK exhibition of the artists work for nearly twenty years and will focus on the artist through his travels, bringing visitors closer to not just his works but the people and places he visited throughout Europe. While Conversations with God: Jan Matejkos Copernicus will be the first time a work by a Polish artist is shown in the Gallery with Jan Matejkos Copernicus (1873), a monumental canvas of the Polish astronomer, displayed alongside a 1543 copy of De revolutionibus orbium coelestium. The National Gallery has also recently announced a landmark exhibition of works by Nicolas Poussin - the first ever to focus on his pictures of dancers and revellers - which will open with Poussin and the Dance (9 October 2021 2 January 2022) in the Ground Floor Galleries.
Despite periods of lockdown the National Gallery is creating innovative and fresh digital content meaning that for the first time visitors do not have to be at the Gallery or even in the country to experience the collection or the critically acclaimed exhibitions in such depth.
Artemisia received widespread praise with five-star reviews and topping a number of end-of-year best of lists. In November the Gallery launched a new curator-led on-demand film of Artemisia, where viewers could join exhibition curator, Letizia Treves, on a 30-minute online tour to hear Artemisias amazing story and witness the violence and drama of her best-known paintings. Despite the UK currently being under lockdown the exhibition film is still available free for all National Gallery Members even after the initial run has finished.
Although the famous Portico Entrance sometimes has to be closed, the digital programme means geographical barriers at least are dispensed with as everyone around the world has 24/7 access to the paintings found in Trafalgar Square, London.
Since the online events programme began in June 2020, over 30,000 visitors - both domestic and international - have attended various sessions ranging from courses, talks and lectures to other free exhibition films such as a walk-through of the five-star exhibition Titian: Love, Desire, Death with curator Thomas Dalla Costa. Visitors have tuned in to these sessions from across the world including Peru, Russia, South Africa, Australia, Dubai, South Korea, Israel and Ireland. While in the last year the National Gallery has gained over 408,000 followers across all four social media channels, showing the appetite for art and culture during these tough times. The Gallery now serves a digital audience of over ten million people every year, with a digital reach of hundreds of millions of people.
Over the Christmas period the National Gallery also opened Sensing the Unseen: Step into Gossaert's 'Adoration', an experience for visitors to explore Jan Gossaerts masterpiece The Adoration of the Kings through soundscapes, spoken word and hi-resolution digital imagery. Although the current lockdown means this acclaimed experience will not be available to see in person anymore, the Gallery will be launching Sensing the Unseen: At home this month in which viewers will be able to enjoy the sonified painting experience in the comfort of their own home.
Away from the digital landscape, the Gallery also overcame significant challenges during this unprecedented time to bring the collection to an international audience with Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London. In partnership with The Yomiuri Shimbun the exhibition of some sixty paintings, ranging from the Italian Renaissance to the beginning of the 20th century, has travelled throughout Japan from the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo to its current destination at the National Museum of Art, Osaka. Continuing this international tour, the exhibits will then form Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London when they arrive at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra in March.