Which was the first Art Gallery that was freely open to the Public?
The first ART GALLERY in Britain that was freely open to the public was the Dulwich College Picture Gallery, opened in 1814 with approximately 510 paintings housed in a building specially designed for the purpose by Sir John Soane. The nucleus of the collection had been formed by Edward Alleyn, a retired Elizabethan actor who founded Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift (now Dulwich College) in 1619. On his death in 1626 he bequeathed 39 pictures to the College. The collection was augmented by a further bequest of 80 pictures made by the actor William Cartwright in 1686. The decision to build a public art gallery was taken by the Governors following the major gift of 371 pictures received under the Bourgeois Bequest in 1811. Originally admission to the- gallery was by tickets obtainable without charge from various art-dealers in London and Croydon, but this formality was done away with in 1858.
The first Painting Purchased by the Nation for public display were 38 works from the Angerstein Collection, for which the Government paid £ 57,000 in from the Anger stein Collection, for which the Government paid £ 57,000 in 1824. These went on exhibition at the British Institution’s rooms at 52 Pall Mall on 10 May of the same year. After a number of additions had been made to the national art collection, it was removed to the newly built National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, which was opened on 9 April 1838.