If you’re visiting Buckingham Palace, chances are slim that you’ll get an inside tour. The State Room tours only take place a certain time of year and you’re required to book ahead. That doesn’t mean a trip to Buckingham Palace is a waste, it’s obviously a beautiful landmark and there’s always the changing of the guards, but my vote is to take a peek inside the Queen’s Gallery.
To the left of the palace, in the back, you’ll find the entrance to the small gallery, tastefully decorated, and fit for a queen. The gallery currently offers two exhibits: Maria Merian’s Butterflies and Scottish Artists. This limited art makes the visit short, but still nice. Compared to, say, the National Gallery, where you can get lost in the maze of art and maybe not agree with your party on which paintings to visit, at The Queen’s Gallery, you can see everything in one go, and still have energy for activities afterwards. This is great for out-of-town guests because even if there are only a couple museum enthusiasts in the bunch, everyone can enjoy a small gallery visit, especially one that’s tied to Buckingham Palace.
Maria Merian’s Butterflies exhibit showcases the work of the late entomologist. In 1699, Maria Merian traveled to South America and thoroughly studied and illustrated insects, focusing on the metamorphosis of the butterfly. These illustrations are now on display in The Queen’s Gallery.
The other exhibit, Scottish Artists is displayed in some of the prettiest gallery rooms I have ever seen. The walls are painted in rich jewel tones and surrounded by lacquered wood and shiny marble. The ruby and emerald colors remind you that you are in The Queen’s Gallery and it is a very special place.
I loved the Scottish art, especially the paintings done following trips to Spain. So inspired by their travels, several artists began painting sunny Spanish scenes instead of the typical gray UK countryside. I think I looked at those paintings as my own escape from that said countryside. In addition to the paintings, there were some illustrated books and a hand-carved clock. All incredibly beautiful pieces dating from 1750-1900.
Following the two exhibits, I toured around the gift shop. It’s definitely targeted towards older women that have an affinity for the royals. Lots of teas and china and lotions. Not much to keep my husband interested, so he waited outside.
Between the exhibits and the gift shop, the entire experience took about an hour and a half, at most. We felt satisfied that we saw everything we needed to, making this a fantastic option for a quick activity. Next time you’re giving the Buckingham Palace tour, pop in to The Queen’s Gallery to see some pretty impressive art in a gorgeous space!
The Queen’s Gallery
Buckingham Palace Road
London SW1A 1AA