The National Gallery

National Gallery and Trafalgar Square in the early morning

What a better spot for an art gallery than one of the liveliest and busy areas of the city centre? Housed in the Pigeon riddled yet iconic Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery is unique in the fact that it is both centrally located and a free museum for you to visit. A stone’s throw from Westminster and Leicester Square, the National Gallery is home to countless paintings and is housed in a historic building overlooking Nelsons column whilst also welcoming all ages for free into its galleries. The Gallery is also great for school and educational talks as well as public tours of the extensive gallery space. Whether you’re looking for a great way to kill a few hours or you’re an art enthusiast, the National Gallery is great for any guest at the Montcalm Hotel in London.


The National Gallery was founded in 1824 and its current incarnation is the third building to house the National Gallery. After calls in the early 19th century for a gallery to be made for the British Public, the National Gallery was brought into existence when the government bought 38 paintings from rich insurance broker John Julius Angerstein, before being shaped around these purchases by the early gallery directors. Alongside private donations and a slow and steady development of the pieces, the gallery became one of the most visited museums in the world and now houses over 2300 paintings ranging from the 13th century to the beginning of the 20th.


Although initially ridiculed by critics on its completion, the Trafalgar Square based gallery was altered over time, including the Sainsbury wing in the early 90’s, designed by postmodernist architect Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. This was created to house a vast collection of Renaissance paintings amassed by the gallery. Earlier renovations include the long gallery created by Sir James Pennethorne in 1860, an intricately decorated gallery which added to the initial cramped conditions of the gallery. Over time however, it was modernised and made into a larger space fit for the vast swathes of visitors who visit every day.

Notable artists

There are many fascinating artists in the National Gallery who continue to resonate through history and through what the public deem to be classical art. These include Jan van Eyck who’s Arnolfini Portrait is situated in the gallery. Jan van Eyck is a Flemish painter who was active during the 15th century and is known for being one of the founders of early Renaissance Art. Other painter sin the collection include Paolo Uccello, a 15th century artist who pioneered work on visual perspective in art, looking for depth in perspective rather than to tell a story. Other notable artists in the gallery include Masaccio and Dieric Bouts, creating a collage of classical works which signpost a journey through the depth of history.


For guests at the Montcalm Shoreditch, travelling to the National Gallery is easy, with close connections to Charing Cross and Embankment Station alongside great routes by bus.