Patron: Sandy Nairne CBE 

Sandy Nairne is a writer and curator, and was Director of the National Portrait Gallery from 2002 to 2015. During this time the Gallery increased its attendance to over two million visitors each year, staged several important exhibitions, increased its learning and outreach work, and made significant acquisitions, including the last self-portrait by Sir Anthony Van Dyck. His previous work includes being Director of Programmes at Tate, working closely with Nicholas Serota in the creation of Tate Modern and the renewal of Tate Britain, and overseeing Tate’s regional, digital and educational developments. He is the author of a number of books and essays, and is currently Chair of the Clore Leadership Programme and a Trustee of the National Trust. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and a long-term supporter of engage, the National Association for Gallery Education.

Understanding the visual world is a vital contemporary skill for young people. Public galleries can play their part in offering a critical and engaging experience with art. But studying art history provides an opportunity to understand the processes and meanings of the visual arts in greater depth.