Behind the Scenes at the National Gallery

Monday 7th October 2019

We are delighted to have confirmed an exclusive tour of the National Gallery with the gallery’s Head of Art Handling, Patrick O'Sullivan. Patrick will close a number of rooms especially for us, taking a number of paintings out of their frames and discussing the technical challenges involved in hanging, displaying, moving and framing the collection, as well as the various solutions he and his team have devised. On our last private tour with Patrick a particular highlight was his discussion of Leonardo da Vinci’s Burlington Cartoon which we were able to see taken out of its protective frame. This was designed specially by Patrick in order to display and safeguard this precious and priceless work.

We will have excusive access to masterpieces in storage including Botticini's Assumption and then a number of rooms such as the Sunley Room will be especially closed for us in order to examine paintings out of their frames and understand how they are hung, moved and displayed. We will also discuss questions of security, dealing with more fragile works in the collection and logisitics when works are lent abroad for exhibitions.

Our study day will reveal a rare, behind-the-scenes insight into the work that experts at the gallery do to care for, protect and present the collection.

Spaces on this event are strictly limited, so early booking is advisable

This study day is now fully booked - please do let us know if you would like to join a waiting list in case extra spaces become available.



Please meet at 10.30 in the Trafalgar Room of the National Gallery Café (which is on the ground floor of the Getty Wing). 

Coffee, tea and homemade biscuits (included) will be served between 10.30 and 11.00. We will then meet Patrick so please do arrive in good time as we will be moving around various galleries (which will be cordoned off for us), so latecomers may find it hard to find us. The tour will finish at about 12.30.


Lunch is not arranged but there are refreshments before the tour (see above).

Further Study Day Information

Location and Directions
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN

To view a map of the gallery location click here

Travel Information:
The nearest tube stations are Leicester Square and Charing Cross. If you are coming from Waterloo, you may wish to take the overland train from Waterloo East which brings you into Charing Cross railway station, which is a regular and efficient service. If you are coming by bus, click here for a list of bus routes.

If you would like to join us please fill in the online booking form. If you would prefer to send a booking form by post please download a copy here

Once your booking has been accepted, we will notify you by email. Normally we will not need to send you any further information, so please just bring the study day details and email confirmation with you on the day. We regret we are unable to offer refunds on unused tickets, but tickets may be transferred to someone else for the event you have booked (please do let us know if you would like to do so, and give us the name of the person who will be taking your place). Availability is limited.

Please refer to our Terms and Conditions for booking this event.

Just to say thank you for such an interesting and entertaining morning. Patrick was excellent - we really enjoyed listening to him. It is so easy to just wander round the Gallery, lost in the magnificence of the works, without ever thinking about the logistics and challenges of presenting them or the thought and scheduling that needs to go into it. Patrick brought it all to life.”

Mr and Mrs David and Denise Lennox

Read more testimonials and comments


  • Exclusive, behind-the-scenes access to the National Gallery Collection
  • Limited numbers
  • Explore works in storage such as Botticini's Assumption
  • Refreshments included



Booking is now closed.

If you have any questions regarding the study day or booking please send us an email or
call on +44 (0)1932 267322

Recommended Reading

Visit the AHF bookstore for a list of recommended books and products to accompany this study day.


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