Navigating London’s stoic, stone monuments can leave your kids feeling detached from the history around them. To the little ones, everything starts to look the same at around the fifth statue of a guy on a horse, and they shut off completely. Prevent this tragedy in your family with a visit to the National Portrait Gallery, where British history comes to life. Start at the top floor, where stately black rooms house vivid oil paintings of stern Tudors, including a young Queen Elizabeth in her pearl-laden coronation gown bathed in white light. Your kids may giggle at the Jacobean ruffles and velvet blouses, but there’s bound to be one portrait whose piercing gaze will resonate with even the youngest in your group. Armed with your newfound knowledge of early English royalty, explore the rest of the museum, where no less than 1,400 portraits of historical figures are on display at any one time. Check out the stately gents in the Hall of Statesmen, or peruse your favorite figures of the Victorian era. And don’t miss artist John Taylor’s portrait of playwright and poet William Shakespeare, one of the most valuable pieces in the museum. Sooner or later, though, the kids will want to visit the Lerner Gallery, where photos, sculptures, and oil paintings depict young royals like Princes William and Harry, as well as contemporary pop-cultural icons. It’s as convincing an argument as any that history repeats itself.

National Portrait Gallery

7 Whitcomb St London WC2H 7HA

44 20 7312 2463

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