The gallery is home to more than 2000 Western European paintings from the middle ages to the 19th century. With free admission to The National Gallery 361 days of the year, focus remains on allowing the collection to be enjoyed by the widest public possible. Even the location of Trafalgar Square was chosen in 1831 as it was deemed to be the very centre of London – allowing the wealthy in their carriages to visit from the West End and the less wealthy to come by foot from the East of London. In 1824, the House of Commons voted to pay GBP57000 for the picture collection of recently deceased banker John Julius Angertsein. They intended that Angerstein’s 38 pictures were to be the foundations of a new national collection. The collection was kept at Angersteins house at 100 Pall Mall until a dedicated Gallery could be built, a decision that was heavily ridiculed when critics compared the size of Angersteins house to that of other international galleries. Finally in 1831 Parliament agreed to construct a dedicated gallery at its current location in Trafalgar Square with construction completed in 1838. Whilst the art in the gallery belongs to the public, the gallery is governed by a Board of Trustees who are appointed by the Prime Minister.
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