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National Treasures by Rail: the National Gallery turns 200

To celebrate its Bicentenary year, the National Gallery is sending 12 national treasures to galleries across the UK. Here’s how you can visit a masterpiece near you by train

The National Gallery is turning 200 and to celebrate, 12 of the nation’s most iconic and well-loved paintings from the collection at Trafalgar Square are being lent to 12 venues across the UK.

Opening on 10 May 2024, National Treasures(external link, opens in a new tab) will enable people from all over the country to see, up close, some of the greatest works of modern art – with over over half the population within an hour’s rail journey of a National Gallery masterpiece.

Paintings including Constable’s The Hay Wain, Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire and Monet’s The Water-Lily Pond will each travel to a regional centre across the country. For The Wilton Diptych and Botticelli’s Venus and Mars, it will be the first time they have left the Gallery since they were acquired.

National Treasures is part of yearlong celebrations organised to celebrate the National Gallery’s 200th anniversary of its opening in London in 1824. An ambitious programme of events(external link, opens in a new tab) will showcase the breadth of skill and creativity in the UK’s cultural sector and will celebrate the Gallery’s past and present, while looking forward to the next century. The 12 works of art will be loaned for between 2 and 4 months, with the final displays finishing on Tuesday 10 September 2024.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to see some of these masterpieces in their new settings. Get there for less with Advance tickets, saving you up to 43% off your journey when you book up to 12 weeks in advance of your trip. What’s more, you can combine your ticket with a Railcard(external link, opens in a new tab) for a further 1/3 off the cost of your journey.

Which National Treasure will you visit first? Check out how to get there by train below and plan your journey here.

Oxford

The Wilton Diptych(external link, opens in a new tab) (about 1395-9) will be on display at the Ashmolean Museum(external link, opens in a new tab).

The painting’s temporary home will be in the England gallery, alongside the museum’s Cloth of Gold, the funeral pall of Henry VII. A short film will introduce the diptych, and a specially produced audio guide will explore its iconography in more depth and how the diptych relates to the artefacts around it. The diptych will also feature in the Family Festival of Art with activities planned in the England Gallery.

Nearest Station: Oxford

Brighton

Self Portrait at the Age of 34(external link, opens in a new tab) (1640) by Rembrandt (1606-1669) will be on display at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery(external link, opens in a new tab).

What will you be like when you’re 34? Brighton Museum and Art Gallery uses Rembrandt’s Self Portrait (1640) from that age to spark a Photography Club project and eventual display, asking that question of 13- to 16-year-olds in the local area.

Nearest Station: Brighton

Bristol

The Hay Wain (external link, opens in a new tab)(1821) by John Constable (1776-1837) will be on display at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery(external link, opens in a new tab).

Constable’s The Hay Wain will be the focus of an exhibition of landscapes from 17th century Dutch to abstraction and conceptual art. The show aims to show how art is responding to the climate crisis, as well as class, LGBTQI+ identity, colonialism and migration.

Nearest Stations: Bristol Temple Meads, Clifton Down

Cambridge

Venus and Mars (external link, opens in a new tab)(about 1485) by Sandro Botticelli (about 1445-1510) will be on display at The Fitzwilliam Museum(external link, opens in a new tab).

The museum will show Botticelli’s Venus and Mars in their Octagon Gallery, alongside three major Italian Renaissance works in different media, asking questions about nudity and clothing, setting and viewership, sex and gender.

Nearest Station: Cambridge

Birmingham

Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria(external link, opens in a new tab) (about 1615-17) by Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1654 or later) will be on display at Ikon Gallery(external link, opens in a new tab).

Ikon Gallery has commissioned Dublin-based contemporary artist Jesse Jones to make new work in response to Artemisia Gentileschi’s Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria. Jones’ exhibition includes sound elements and moving images to create a cinematic space, while she also collaborates with Dublin-based dance company Junk Ensemble on performance tableaux that mirror Gentileschi’s compositions.

Nearest Station: Five Ways

Newcastle

The Fighting Temeraire(external link, opens in a new tab) (1839) by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) will be on display at Laing Art Gallery(external link, opens in a new tab).

The Laing Art Gallery will be mounting a major exhibition with The Fighting Temeraire as the centrepiece, exploring themes of industry and nostalgia, with education and outreach workshops contributing to an intergenerational project thinking about memory and heritage.

Nearest Station: Newcastle

Leicester

The Umbrellas(external link, opens in a new tab) (about 1881-6) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) will be on display at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery(external link, opens in a new tab).

The Umbrellas will be the centrepiece of an in-focus gallery alongside a digital installation using sound and animation to bring the artwork to life, taking the viewer on a visual journey through the bustling streets of 1880s Paris, exploring sound and movement.

Nearest Station: Leicester

Aberystwyth

The Stonemason’s Yard (external link, opens in a new tab)(about 1725) by Canaletto (1697-1768) will be on display at The National Library of Wales(external link, opens in a new tab).

Canaletto & Cymru, featuring The Stonemason’s Yard, embodies 2 themes: Wales as a safe haven during the Second World War (using archive footage of the slate mines of Manod, where National Gallery paintings were housed during the war); and the artistic and thematic links between the painting and the topography of Wales, industry and Welsh life.

Nearest Station: Aberystwyth

Edinburgh

A Young Woman standing at a Virginal (external link, opens in a new tab)(about 1670-2) by Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) will be on display at Scottish National Gallery(external link, opens in a new tab).

A Young Woman Standing at a Virginal will be on display at the National in Edinburgh, amongst the National Galleries of Scotland’s superb collection of Dutch and Flemish paintings. A programme of learning and events will also take place to mark the occasion.

Nearest Station: Edinburgh

Liverpool

The Rokeby Venus (external link, opens in a new tab)(1647-51) by Diego Velázquez (1599-1660) will be on display at Walker Art Gallery(external link, opens in a new tab).

The Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool will be displaying The Rokeby Venus and challenging traditional readings of the painting by setting it alongside unexpected artworks by women and nonbinary artists from the Walker’s collection. These include Ethel Walker’s The Spanish Gesture, photographs by René Matic and Zanele Muholi, and Harriet Hosmer’s Puck.

Nearest Station: Liverpool Lime Street

York

The Water-Lily Pond(external link, opens in a new tab) (1899) by Claude Monet (1840-1926) will be on display at York Art Gallery(external link, opens in a new tab)

The Water-Lily Pond has inspired an exhibition that brings together key loans alongside collection works, and a large-scale commission by contemporary artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan. The radical nature and development of Monet’s work will be explored within the context of his beloved gardens at Giverny, and the rich tradition of 19th century French open-air painting.

Nearest Station: York

Belfast

The Supper at Emmaus(external link, opens in a new tab) (1601) by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) will be on display at Ulster Museum(external link, opens in a new tab).

Natural light will bring out the intensity and intimacy of The Supper at Emmaus, while adjacent galleries will show 20th century and contemporary art from their collection, including time-based media by Cornelia Parker and Willie Doherty, and sculpture by Dorothy Cross. The painting will form the basis of a wide engagement programme across all ages through the summer of 2024.

For information on how to visit Ulster Museum, visit Northern Ireland’s Translink website(external link, opens in a new tab).

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Image credits:

Monet, The Water-Lily Pond, 1899 © The National Gallery, London

The Wilton Diptych, c.1395-9 © The National Gallery, London

Constable, The Haywain, 1821 © The National Gallery, London

Turner, The Fighting Temeraire, 1839 © The National Gallery, London

Velazquez, The Rokeby Venus, c.1647-51 © The National Gallery, London

Caravaggio, The Supper at Emmaus, 1610 © The National Gallery, London