The BP Portrait Awards from the National Portrait Gallery that visitors have loved so much will soon move on from Sunderland Museum

Even before they arrived from the National Portrait Gallery, the BP Portrait Awards were a big hit with people in the North East. News that the 55 portraits would soon go on display led to art lovers of the North East clicking on the National Portrait Gallery website to view what was to come.

Viewing them on a website isn’t quite like seeing them in the ‘flesh’ and when the doors to the exhibition at Sunderland Museum opened to the public on Saturday 4 October visitors were absolutely bowled over by the depth of emotion, huge amount of artistic skill, and the empathy each artist seemed to have with their subject.

Also the wide variation of style from portrait to portrait made the viewing of the 55 portraits a more enriching and varying cultural experience. On top of all this, the stories behind the relationship between the subject and the painter gave yet another dimension to the already rich experience.

In the short time the exhibition has been open the museum has seen tens of thousands of visitors go through it’s art gallery doors and it is expected that by the time the exhibition closes on 16 November the number of visitors will be over 50,000.

The visitors of course haven’t only been from the North East but from much further afield. Perhaps one of the reasons these visitors have made the journey to the exhibition is not just the quality of the exhibition which is quite evident, but the fact that Sunderland Museum is the only art gallery in England, apart from the National Portrait Gallery of course, to host the BP Portrait Awards. After the 16 November the exhibition moves on for a final showing at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Before it does move on, and remember it closes Sunday 16 November, we can only advise people to get along to this must see exhibition and in the words of Jo Cunningham, Museum Manager, “people are really missing something special if they don’t see this exhibition”.


Find out more about the BP Portrait Awards.

Find out more about Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens.

Find out more about the National Portrait Gallery.

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Did you know?

Sunderland's Friendship Agreement with Washington DC makes us the only city in Europe to enjoy such a relationship with the world's most powerful city. Washington Old Hall is home to the direct ancestors of the first president of the United States of America.


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