A new partnership between the National Portrait Gallery and family tracing website Ancestry will see nearly 500 years’ worth of British portraits made available online.

Over 125,000 digitised portraits from the Gallery’s Collection will be made available to Ancestry users, alongside the launch of ‘The Nation’s Family Album’, which will seek to collect undiscovered portraits of British people and make them available online.

The portraits in ‘The UK, Portraits and Photographs, 1547- 2018’ are selected primarily for their subject matter and the sitter’s importance to British culture and history, said The National Portrait Gallery.

As well as many portraits of famous figures, the collection includes images of individuals from all walks of life, including Mairi Chisholm, a motorcycle ambulance driver, nurse and photographer.

Art Fund – News
Mairi Chisholm - Motorcycle ambulance driver, nurse and photographer
Mairi Chisholm - Motorcycle ambulance driver, nurse and photographer © National Portrait Gallery

The initiative invites people to submit their family photography, with the chance of having the photographs and stories included in an online exhibition and display at the National Portrait Gallery in London when it reopens in 2023.

Later this year, a panel of experts – including the National Portrait Gallery’s Chief Curator, Dr Alison Smith, and family history expert Simon Pearce from Ancestry – will shortlist a selection of portraits which they believe best encapsulate the themes of The Nation’s Family Album; Belonging, Legacy, Connection and Identity.

Dr Alison Smith, Chief Curator at National Portrait Gallery, said the project will allow people to “explore the histories of those depicted in our Collection”.

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Ancestry to share our extensive Collection of world-class portraits with those researching their family history online, and encourage submissions to The Nation’s Family Album to celebrate this moment.”

In more partnership news this week, Netflix and the Design Museum have partnered on an upcoming exhibition of the streaming platform’s ‘design philosophy’.

Design Museum and Netflix partner on exhibition of the streaming service

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