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The National Gallery
One of London's best loved free art galleries.
The National Gallery was founded in 1824 and houses a rich collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century in its home here just off Trafalgar Square.
The gallery is an exempt charity, and a non-departmental public body of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Its collection belongs to the public of the United Kingdom and entry to the main collection is free of charge (other seasonal exhibitions may require a fee).
Unlike comparable art museums such as the Louvre in Paris, the National Gallery was not formed by nationalising an existing royal or princely art collection. The British government bought 38 paintings from the heirs of the insurance broker and patron of the arts John Julius Angerstein in 1824, and this formed the start of the collection.
In 1831 Parliament agreed to construct a building for the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square. There had been lengthy discussion about the best site for the Gallery, and Trafalgar Square was eventually chosen as it was considered to be at the very centre of London. The new building finally opened in 1838.
It's been much developed and improved and is now one of the greatest free places to visit in London.