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10 minutes with Clare Arouche on events at The National Gallery on its 200th birthday


On May 10th, the National Gallery celebrated its 200th birthday, kicking off the Big Birthday Weekend with a late opening. It was a free, but ticketed, public event with stunning light projections on the iconic building for the public to watch in Trafalgar Square. Sienna Shipton, our intern at PA Life, delves into an exclusive interview with Clare Arouche, Head of Hospitality and Events at The National Gallery. Clare shares her insights into the Gallery’s upcoming events and how you can enjoy this iconic national treasure by hosting your events there…


What kind of events does the National Gallery host?

At the National Gallery, your visions become reality. From exclusive after-hours dinners to Gallery events, enriching exhibitions, and even yoga sessions, we can cater to almost every request with unparalleled elegance. And that’s not all – groups can indulge in a private out-of-hours tour of the Gallery, an experience that Clare reveals is consistently in demand by event organisers.

Can PAs organise entertainment for their events in the Gallery?

“Absolutely! This space exudes a unique ambiance, elevating any upcoming event you wish to host. From fashion shows to product launches, the possibilities are endless.” With Clare at the helm, events transcend the ordinary; think immersive experiences curated by some of the UK’s top luxury creative caterers – blending sustainability with spectacle.

The team stands ready to assist, offering unrivalled support and expertise. Whether you’re planning team-building days, Christmas soirées, or summer parties, inspiration is just a conversation away. The Gallery’s event team are masters at suggesting ideas for PAs and other event organisers.

“It’s a unique experience for guests to be able to mingle amidst exquisite artwork and take part in personalised tours. Your event can be crafted around a special theme or artist, even down to menus with canapés adorned with art or dishes fitting to an era or country. The National Gallery really offers an unparalleled experience. We are committed to being as accommodating as we can, and responsive, as time is of the essence for event organisers. We thrive in making your event an unforgettable experience for the guests.”

What’s been planned for the 200th birthday year?

The National Gallery is undergoing a significant capital project, resulting in the re-opening of our Sainsbury Wing, which also means there will be a host of new event spaces. Clare has been involved in the new spaces and refurbishment of the lecture theatre, in order to allow more daytime events to take place. Private hire events can currently be hosted after the Gallery closes to the public in the evening.

“As part of our 200th birthday celebrations, we’re thrilled to reveal new event spaces that will transform your event experiences at the Gallery. Fresh and exciting possibilities for your events lie ahead, with a newly developed and reconfigured main entrance, a brand-new Supporters’ House, new intimate spaces for smaller events, and a comprehensive redesign of our daytime event spaces. All of this is scheduled for completion in 2025. This will enable us to hire out more spacious areas and more ‘fit for purpose’ spaces, bringing more life to the beautiful venue.”

The Big Birthday Weekend kicked off on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th May with a late opening. It was a free, but ticketed, public event with stunning light projections on the iconic building for the public to watch in Trafalgar Square.

The upcoming Van Gogh: Poets and Lovers exhibition, is set to dazzle in the coming autumn, opening on 14th September this year.

How important is the Event Photography Awards for the events industry?

Clare is a judge for the upcoming Event Photography Awards for the second year running, as is our editor, Marja Leena Toseland. We asked Clare her thoughts on what this event brings to the industry. “One of the best things about the awards is the massive morale boost it gives to the team behind the event. It’s so important for everyone involved, including the photographers of course, to recognise and applaud the astonishing work that goes on to deliver fantastic events. This also allows you to benchmark your work against others, and provoke inspiration for upcoming projects. This can really help in challenging yourself to do the best possible work. The Event Photography Awards are lovely awards and a great way for the industry to create amazing opportunities for the finalists and those shortlisted – the upcoming stars.”


You’ll find a great collection of interviews with inspiring people across a multitude of industries and professions.