Located within a southern wing of Buckingham Palace, just down the street from Westminster Abbey and Big Ben, The Queen’s Gallery consists of a regularly rotating, carefully curated selection of artworks drawn from the Royal Collection—the British Royal Family’s private art collection, the largest in the world. Visitors to The Queen’s Gallery can enjoy an assortment of renowned paintings and drawings, royal furniture, decorative arts, and photographs.
Money Saving Tip! The Queen’s Gallery is included on the London Pass. If you are sightseeing in London, then you can save a lot of money with the pass.
History of The Queen’s Gallery
The Queen’s Gallery is located at the southern edge of Buckingham Palace, on a patch of land with a rich royal history dating back nearly 200 years. The architect John Nash, considered today one of the individuals most responsible for the design of Regency-era London, built a conservatory here in 1831. This pavilion-like structure was transformed into a chapel by Queen Victoria just one decade later, serving the royal family in that capacity until it was reduced to rubble during an air raid in World War II.
In 1962, a new structure was built on the site of the former chapel for the purpose of housing selected artworks from the Royal Collection, and this latest wing of Buckingham Palace was dubbed The Queen’s Gallery. To celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee, The Queen’s Gallery was extensively redesigned and renovated some four decades later. This refurbished attraction was opened to the public in 2002.
The Queen’s Gallery Highlights
The Queen’s Gallery constitutes a part of the Royal Collection, the royal family’s incredible art collection. The majority of the Royal Collection dates to 1660 (most notable possessions or artworks before that point in time having been sold off by Oliver Cromwell during the Interregnum). It numbers over one million total objects across a wide range of artistic genres, and is housed at 15 royal residences throughout the United Kingdom—of which The Queen’s Gallery is one. The Queen’s Gallery itself is anchored by three primary exhibition galleries flanked by multiple smaller rooms.
Because of the nature of the attraction, what’s on display at The Queen’s Gallery changes on a regular basis, with the museum typically a couple major exhibitions each year. As a result, what you’ll experience while at The Queen’s Gallery is contingent on the timing of your visit. A sample of recent exhibitions at The Queen’s Gallery include such shows as Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace; Japan: Courts and Culture; Victoria and Albert: Our Lives in Watercolour; Young Gainsborough: Rediscovered Landscape Drawings; and Maria Merian’s Butterflies, just to name a few for perspective.
More often than not, what’s on display at The Queen’s Gallery tends toward venerable paintings by acclaimed “Old Masters,” historic pieces of antique furniture, and rare photographs of the royals.
More to See and Do at The Queen’s Gallery
Here are a few more notes to enhance your visit to The Queen’s Gallery.
•All guests to The Queen’s Gallery are entitled to a free audio guide. This complimentary program lasts about one hour and contains an informative overview of exhibits, artworks, and more—all provided by the museum’s expert staff and respected art historians.
•The Queen’s Gallery routinely holds a variety of curator’s lectures on a host of intriguing topics. These special events are often available as part of your standard admission ticket, so if you’re interested, check out the “What’s On” page of The Queen’s Gallery official website.
•Those visitors hoping to take home with them a little slice of the Royal Collection will want to stop in at The Queen’s Gallery shop. This souvenir store sells an assortment of royalty-themed gifts and replicas of Royal Collection artworks.
Why The Queen’s Gallery Should Be on Your Must-See List
The majority of visitors to London are likely to want to visit Buckingham Palace at some point during their trip. If you have an interest in art and you know you’re headed to this most famous of royal residences anyways, it doesn’t make much sense to pass up the opportunity to tour The Queen’s Gallery. This charming art museum is far from the largest gallery you’ll encounter, which makes it great for those on a tight schedule. At the same time, its ever-changing exhibitions are wide-ranging in scope and typically quite engaging.