The National Portrait Gallery of London recently released an online collection catalogue and made some of the institution’s historical records available online. The Gallery’s institutional records were previously not accessible to the general public and include a number of insights into the unique history of the institution.
One of the more shocking bits of institutional history released is a document which examines a murder-suicide occurred in the the Gallery’s east wing in 1909. The Gallery’s records also include a report which highlights the rat problem the Gallery faced during WWII. The majority of the previously unreleased institutional history focuses on exciting, bizarre, and exceptional events.
The inclusion of interesting anecdotes in an institutional history allows for the history of the Gallery to appeal to a wider audience. By placing emphasis on unique occurrences at the Gallery, the Gallery’s past becomes interesting, making people want to know more about the institution itself. I think the release of this material to the media was a great public relations move by the Gallery. This release has allowed the Gallery to gain a more youthful and interesting personality in the face of a public which isn’t always interested in history, art, or museums.