Past Events

The Paul Mellon Lectures: Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery

Lecture – Gabriele Finaldi

  • 20 October 2021
  • 5:00 – 6:30 pm
  • The first of six lectures on the topic of The Museum and Gallery Today, part of the 2021 Paul Mellon Lectures.
  • Online

A Gallery ‘for the Use of the Public’: The National Gallery at Two Hundred

In 2024 the National Gallery will be two hundred years old. Founded by Parliament in the slipstream of Enlightenment ideas of the social and educational benefits of public museums, it has become over time a treasure house of European painting as well as a London landmark; a magnet for international tourism as well as a centre for high level research in the material sciences. It hosts exhibitions visited by tens of thousands of people and also seeks to explore remote corners of the art historical landscape. It is the only national museum of historic painting that has a practising artist’s studio in the building as well as an attached digital laboratory. Central to its purpose is the sharing of the collections and expertise for the benefit of the public. As the National Gallery approaches its bicentenary, Gabriele Finaldi will discuss why this matters and identifies the challenges the gallery faces on the threshold of the third century of its existence.

Established in 1994, this lecture series was named in honour of Paul Mellon (Yale College, class of 1929), the philanthropist, collector of British art, and founder of both the Yale Center for British Art (YCBA) in New Haven and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (PMC). Co-organised by the two institutions, these biennial lectures have traditionally been given by a specialist in British art, first at the National Gallery, London, and again at the YCBA in New Haven.

This year’s series, entitled The Museum and Gallery Today, is exclusively online and features individual talks from some of the world’s most distinguished museum and gallery directors. The lectures are presented as free live webinars. Registration is required.

About the speaker

  • Head and shoulders portrait of man in suit with painting in background

    Gabriele Finaldi has been Director of the National Gallery since August 2015. He was previously Deputy Director for Collections and Research at the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, a position he took up in 2002. Prior to his role at the Prado, he was a curator at the National Gallery between 1992 and 2002, where he was responsible for the later Italian paintings in the collection (Caravaggio to Canaletto) and the Spanish collection (Bermejo to Goya). Finaldi studied art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art, where he completed his doctorate in 1995 on the seventeenth-century Spanish painter who worked in Italy Jusepe de Ribera. He has curated exhibitions in Britain, Spain, Italy, Belgium and the US. He has written catalogues and scholarly articles on Velázquez and Zurbarán, Italian Baroque painting and religious iconography.