First Look Festival | McCartney, Emin and Fobert kick off National Portrait Gallery’s grand reopening

Celebrate the NPG's rebirth with McCartney, Emin, Fobert and more in a series of lively events this summer.

Paul McCartney © Mary McCartney; Self Portrait

Celebrate the rebirth of the National Portrait Gallery with McCartney, Emin, Fobert and more in a series of lively events this summer at First Look Festival.

In just 50 days, the National Portrait Gallery will throw open its doors, and to mark the occasion, they’re announcing the First Look Festival. With events for adults, families, young people and schools, this exciting festival will reintroduce the Gallery to its visitors this summer. The Principal Partner of the new National Portrait Gallery, Bank of America, will support the festival, offering a ‘first look’ at the transformed building, the redisplayed Collection and major exhibitions.

WATCH: whynow’s exclusive interview with Tracey Emin

Kicking off on 22 June 2023, the Gallery’s reopening date, the First Look Festival will be headlined by a special series of in-conversation events featuring key cultural figures. The line-up includes Paul McCartney, Tracey Emin, Jamie Fobert, and the Gallery’s Director, Dr Nicholas Cullinan. Visitors will have the chance to explore the all-new National Portrait Gallery and hear from those who played a significant role in its development.

L-R: Paul McCartney © Mary McCartney; Self Portrait © Tracey Emin, February 2023; Jamie Fobert © Laura Pannack.

L-R: Paul McCartney © Mary McCartney; Self Portrait © Tracey Emin, February 2023; Jamie Fobert © Laura Pannack.

In honour of the 75th anniversaries of Windrush and the 1948 Nationality Act, journalist Alex Pascall and photographer Vanley Burke will reflect on migration, the Caribbean and Britain today and discuss what it means to be British for people who are from a non-British Isles background.

READ MORE: Revolutionary photographer Yevonde’s unseen treasures unveiled at National Portrait Gallery reopening

The festival includes live discussions, curator meetings, and Open Studios – free creative art and photography workshops in the new Mildred and Simon Palley Learning Centre. Workshops range from smartphone portraiture to painting eyes, unique collage, and drawing workshops with pop artists Jann Haworth and Liberty Blake.

Families and young people can look forward to two days of free activities, with trails, storytelling sessions, family tours, art workshops, music, spoken word, and film screenings. Following the First Look Festival, additional summer programming includes a film season curated by Paul McCartney, a photography workshop in Soho, and a panel discussion exploring otherness, gender and performance.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, expressed his delight at announcing the First Look Festival. At the same time, Andrea Sullivan, International Head of Social and Environmental Group at Bank of America, emphasised the rich programme of activity that promises to warmly welcome visitors back.

The National Portrait Gallery will also offer a new £5 ticket for its Summer 2023 season of exhibitions, available to all visitors aged 30 and under, supported by Bank of America.

Additionally, National Portrait Gallery Membership offers free unlimited access to our reopening year of exhibitions. An annual subscription starts from just £5.50 a month – more details can be found here.

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